Center for the Arts Presents Leon Bates’s ‘Gershwin on Broadway’

Posted: October 2, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Leon Bates
Leon Bates

Leon Bates, one of America’s leading concert pianists, brings audiences to their feet, especially when he performs Gershwin classics. Bates, soprano Louise Toppin and tenor Robert Mack will perform “Gershwin on Broadway” at Mason’s Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m.

A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, will begin 45 minutes prior to the curtain on the Hall’s Grand Tier.

“Gershwin on Broadway,” a celebration of the legendary American composer, includes dozens of timeless favorites, including those from shows such as “Lady Be Good,” “Funny Face,” “Strike Up the Band” and “Girl Crazy.”

The program features “Someone to Watch over Me,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Summertime,” “S’ Wonderful,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” and Bates’s signature rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue.”

“We are delighted to welcome Leon Bates back to the center,” says Rick Davis, artistic director for the Center for the Arts. “His playing is justly celebrated for its artful blend of power and poetry, and the combination of his interpretive gifts with Gershwin’s luscious Broadway melodies will make for a very satisfying and sophisticated evening.”

Bates’s extensive repertoire includes Gershwin, Joplin, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and others. He has performed in virtually all of the major concert venues in the United States, including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall and both the Academy of Music and Kimmel Center in his native Philadelphia. He has toured extensively abroad.

He has appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show” and on “CBS Sunday Morning” and contributed to the PBS film, “Music in the 20th Century.” Bates is also a master teacher and typically performs more than 50 residency programs a season to inspire, motivate and delight promising young musicians.

In addition to his orchestra engagements and teaching, Bates recently composed a lecture on the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. the Board of Education, and its impact on his life and career as a black musician.

Toppin has received critical acclaim for her opera, orchestral and oratorio performances worldwide. Her most recent performances include Clara in Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” in the Opera Carolina and Piedmont Opera companies. She also received rave reviews after a recent performance of Mozart’s Impresario at the Kennedy Center.

Mack has performed in numerous opera houses across the United States and abroad, and was also a featured tenor soloist for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s signature work, “Revelations.”

Tickets are $40, $32 and $20; tickets for children 12 and under are half price. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

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