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LEON BATES PRESENTS "GERSHWIN ON BROADWAY" WITH LOUISE TOPPIN AND ROBERT MACK

September 21, 2007
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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE ARTS PRESENTS

LEON BATES

"GERSHWIN ON BROADWAY"

With Louise Toppin and Robert Mack

Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m.


FAIRFAX, Va., Sept. 21, 2007 – Leon Bates, one of America’s leading concert pianists brings audiences to their feet, especially when he performs Gershwin classics. “Bates returned for a big-shoulder version of the ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ He gave such impetus to the first movement that he was interrupted by applause at the end.” (Philadelphia Inquirer) Leon Bates, along with soprano Louise Toppin and tenor Robert Mack, performs “Gershwin on Broadway” at George Mason University Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticketholders, begins 45 minutes prior to the curtain, on the Hall’s Grand Tier III.

"Gershwin on Broadway," a celebration of the legendary American composer, includes dozens of timeless favorites including those from shows like “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’ signature rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue.”

“We are delighted to welcome Leon Bates back to the Center,” said 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' extensive repertoire includes Gershwin, Joplin, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and others. “Bates is a player equally at home in jazz and classical piano styles.” (The Washington Post) A disciplined body-builder, he is also known for his propulsive, yet elegant style. “Built like a brick wall, with shoulders roughly the width of the piano keyboard, his is a commanding presence on the stage.” (Asbury Park Press) Bates 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 film of PBS’s “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.

Soprano Louise 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 from The Washington Post after a recent performance of Mozart’s "Impresario" at the Kennedy Center. Tenor Robert 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.”

 

PNC is the 2007-08 Season Sponsor for Great Performances at Mason.

Tickets for Leon Bates Gershwin on Broadway are $40, $32, $20 Family Friendly! All children, 12 and under, half price. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K. Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.

About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.