Stage Is Set for GMU Season

By C. Woodrow Irvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Center for the Arts at George Mason University will begin its 2006-07 season with a concert by four-time Grammy Award nominee Michael Feinstein, the first event in what the center's leaders said will be an exciting and dynamic season of music, dance and theater performances.

Feinstein, a pop singer, composer and musicologist who has released more than 20 albums and performed for presidents and royalty, will take the stage Sept. 30 as the first of more than 30 acts in the center's Great Performances at Mason series. Feinstein's appearance will be the highlight of a fundraising event, "Arts by George," for the center's academic programs.

Rick Davis, the center's artistic director, unveiled the season's fare to a lunchtime assembly of supporters, staff members and reporters last week. He joked that "hyperbole is inexhaustible," because each year he boasts that the upcoming slate will be the "biggest, best ever."

But he said it is true, that the 2006-07 season will be the greatest in the center's history, "by every measure, qualitative and quantitative." The season runs from late September to early May.

Nearly 50 performances will be presented, with such diverse offerings as the modern dance and puppetry of Momix (Jan. 20 and 21) and the African percussion of Drummers of Burundi (Oct. 6 and 7).

Artists following Feinstein include singer and actress Betty Buckley on Oct. 14 and rock-and-roller Bo Diddley & Friends on Nov. 4. Nimble-fingered fiddler Natalie MacMaster will perform March 4.

Dance fans will be treated to a variety of acts and performances, including "Images From the Embers" by Washington's Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company (Oct. 25), the Tania Pérez-Salas Compañia de Danza of Mexico (Oct. 28) and the Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company (Nov. 11 and 12). There will also be Brooklyn's Urban Bush Women (Jan. 24), the Mark Morris Dance Group, a favorite back for the 10th year (Feb. 23 and 24), and the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble (March 10). Into the spring, acts and performances include the Moscow Festival Ballet's "Don Quixote" (March 24) and "Giselle" (March 25), the contemporary dance of Susan Shields Ballet Cocktail (April 28) and Shen Wei Dance Arts of New York (May 5).

Jeffrey Siegel, another performer who has made the Center for the Arts an annual stop, will present his series of "keyboard conversations" on Oct. 8, Nov. 19, Feb. 25 and April 22. Other classical music performers this season include the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (Oct. 21), pianist Ivo Pogorelich (Oct. 22), Lorin Maazel conducting the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini (Jan. 12), the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Jan. 28) and the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig (March 3).

The Virginia Opera will present five operas: "Carmen" (Oct. 13 and 15), "Susannah" (Dec. 1 and 3), "Agrippina" (Feb. 9 and 11) and "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "I Pagliacci" (performed together March 30 and April 1). Bulgaria's Opera Verdi Europa will bring "Tosca" to the center Jan. 26.

During the holiday season, guitarist Christopher Parkening and baritone Jubilant Sykes will present "A Classical Christmas" on Dec. 8, Irish fiddle champion Eileen Ivers will play an evening of holiday music Dec. 15 and the "Canadian Brass Christmas" concert will follow Dec. 26.

The Acting Company will present "Jane Eyre" on Feb. 14, and the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra will offer a tribute to the big-band era Feb. 17.

Other acts and performances include the Chanticleer chorus's "Love's Messengers" on Oct. 29, mandolin player Chris Thile and bassist Edgar Meyer's selection of original music Jan. 13, Canada's Cirque Eloize's "Rain" Feb. 2 and 3, the Soweto Gospel Choir on Feb. 18, bluegrass band Cherryholmes on April 7 and guitarists John Williams and John Etheridge on April 15.

Davis said the center was pleased to have more local artists on the schedule, including the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Dana Tai Soon Burgess and GMU dance instructor Susan Shields.

"We believe the center can be a generative force for regional arts and culture by producing, presenting and promoting the area's finest artists and ensembles," Davis said.

For ticket information or a schedule of performers and performances, call 703-993-2787 or visit

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