Mason to Dedicate Performing Arts Building Addition

Posted: September 16, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: September 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

By Catherine Ferraro

The Donald and Nancy de Laski Performing Arts Building. Photo by Evan Cantwell

During an evening of song and dance, the new addition of the Donald and Nancy de Laski Performing Arts Building will be dedicated on Tuesday, Sept. 21. The Mason community is invited.

The ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the building’s instrumental rehearsal hall.

The Mason Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Dennis Layendecker, director of the School of Music, will open the ceremony with a performance of Beethoven’s “Consecration of the House.”

Later, students from the School of Dance will perform a work by Susan Shields, professor of dance, titled “Displaced.”

The event will close with a collaborative piece titled “Sing, Sing, Sing” performed by the Chamber Orchestra; the Jazz Chamber Ensemble, directed by Jim Carroll, professor of jazz studies; and the dance students, choreographed by Christopher D’Amboise, assistant professor of dance.

Throughout the evening, remarks will be given by President Alan Merten; William Reeder, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA); Donald de Laski, member of the Mason Foundation Board of Trustees; Layendecker; and Elizabeth Price, director of the School of Dance.

Visitors to the 31,000-square-foot addition will enter into a vast student lounge that opens up into several other studios, creating much-needed space for the growing Schools of Music and Dance. During the day, the lounge is bathed in natural sunlight from the skylight two stories above.

The space includes a 5,000-square-foot instrumental rehearsal hall, which can accommodate orchestras, band and choruses of up to 250 people; two 2,500-square-foot dance studios; a percussion studio; a suite where the performing arts medicine clinic will operate to serve all CVPA students; and instrument storage facilities. In addition, the building has audiovisual equipment that will serve all the performing arts programs.

According to Brian Marcus, associate dean of CVPA, the added rehearsal halls and teaching spaces will create more flexibility and numerous opportunities for the music and dance programs to expand.

The new addition is named for Donald de Laski and his late wife, Nancy, who have been generous supporters of the performing arts at Mason. The de Laski Family Foundation has made possible 16 high-quality practice rooms, as well as the Potomac Arts Academy, an outreach branch of CVPA that provides the community with professional arts instruction.

Dedicated to fostering students studying in the performing arts, the de Laskis also created a new scholarship endowment for music, dance and theater students.

“The untiring support of the de Laski family has made it possible for the arts at Mason to flourish,” says Reeder. “We are very excited about the potential the new performing arts building will have in helping to attract and retain high-quality students and faculty to Mason.”

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu