Mason Announces Summer Arts Festival

Posted: April 29, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Festival of the arts logo

Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts announces the second annual Mason Summer Festival, to be held on Mason’s Fairfax Campus May 31 to June 27.

This month-long festival celebrates artists and arts organizations from the university community and around the Northern Virginia region, presenting a diverse selection of artistic performances and events that unite professional artists, student artists, arts organizations and the community in a creative environment.

Offerings include performances by the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (AYPO), the McLean Symphony and the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra.

Festival corporate sponsors include Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP, the Boeing Corporation and the Esther B. Kahn Charitable Foundation. The Mason Summer Festival is made possible through the support of CVPA, the City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts, the Virginia Commission on the Arts and the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

“We’re very pleased to be hosting this annual event for a second summer,” says Kevin Murray, the festival’s executive director. “We have some new arts partners joining some familiar faces from last summer and an expanded program of arts education and family-friendly programming that will make the Mason campus an arts destination for our region.”

The 2009 festival kicks off on May 31 with a performance by AYPO at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Under the direction of American Youth Philharmonic conductor Luis Haza and American Youth Symphonic Orchestra conductor Carl J. Bianchi, the AYPO will perform a rousing program including Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major, Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Berlioz’s “Roman Carnival Overture” and Respighi’s “Pini di Roma” (“The Pines of Rome”). This performance features trumpeter Thomas Cupples and also serves as the AYPO’s season finale.

Michael Nickens—known to Mason basketball fans as “Doc Nix,” the leader of Mason’s award-winning Green Machine pep band—will team up with Matt Nolan of Mason’s new Game Design Program to present an evening of improvisational music and state-of-the art Wii technology on June 6.

Committed to celebrating the diversity for which Mason is known, this year’s festival will feature performances with an international flair, including French classical guitarist Roland Dyens in concert on June 7, hosted by Mason’s own Potomac Arts Academy.

Seventy students from Hayato High School in Yokohama, Japan will offer performances and demonstrations of Japanese arts and cultural practices at the Japan Fair on June 13.

On June 20-21, Rick Davis and José Cáceres direct Exploring Zarzuela, presented by the In Series. Zarzuelas are Spanish musical theater/light opera performances featuring soaring melodies, clicking castanets, dance, romance and mostly comical situations, and never fail to captivate audiences. The English dialogue will be provided by Bari Biern.

The McLean Symphony will perform on June 14 in a program called “Sounds and Sights of America!” featuring selections from Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo,” Duke Ellington’s “Harlem,” Thomas Jefferson’s “Testament of Freedom” (set to music by Randall Thompson) and Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer’s Saturday” (set to music by John Dankworth).

Featuring the top jazz musicians in the D.C. metropolitan area, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra will present an evening of West Coast and East Coast jazz on June 21 at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. The program includes the music of Stan Kenton, Gordon Goodwin, Alan Baylock, Gerry Mulligan, Benny Goodman and more.

Theater of the First Amendment, Mason’s professional theater company, will offer an expanded First Light Discovery Program of new play development, featuring staged readings of emerging work by playwrights Sherry Kramer and Jennifer L. Nelson, and a new screenplay by Wendy L. Anderson on June 13.

Other highlights:

  • Arts education is a major focus of this year’s festival, which partners with the Potomac Arts Academy to offer training to young artists in guitar, jazz, strings and more.

  • A Class Act: Acting for Young People will offer theater training to budding actors.

  • The Mason Dance Department will host a two-day Dance Intensive for area high school students.

  • Theater of the First Amendment again will offer its First Light student playwriting competition and mentorship program, offering development and readings of student work presented by professional actors and directors. TFA will also team up with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Acting for Young People to present the Generations Playwriting Project, which offers opportunities for students and senior citizens to collaborate in playwriting. These readings, with audience feedback, will be offered on Saturdays in June.

  • Throughout the festival, works from local artists Kristin Herzog and Mark Isaacs will be featured in gallery displays in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall lobby. Herzog creates both realistic and abstract work and experiments with a variety of media, while Isaacs is known for his colorful seascape and landscape paintings. Works by Mason faculty and graduate students will be on display in the Mason Hall Alumni Atrium Gallery and the Performing Arts Building.

According to Murray, ticket prices have been reduced from last year to make it more possible for families to attend events together.

“We are offering so many events at reduced prices, with many events free of charge,” Murray said. “We are thrilled that the Mason Summer Festival can contribute to the already vibrant Northern Virginia arts experience.”

All events are subject to change.

To purchase festival tickets, call 888-945-2468 or visit In person, visit the Center for the Arts ticket office. Ticket prices vary. For more information about programming, call 703-993-2787 or see

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