Press Room

For Press Inquiries, contact Camille Cintrón Devlin, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications at 703-993-8794 or


October 29, 2008
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.




Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008 at 8 p.m.

FAIRFAX, Va., Oct. 10, 2008—Legendary trumpeter Doc Severinsen, best known as the band leader on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (and for his striking wardrobe!), moved to Mexico with plans to retire. But his plans changed when he discovered the incredible music of classical guitarist Gil Gutiérrez, violinist Pedro Cartas and percussionist Luis Conte. Now these four remarkable talents bring their exciting new program, aptly titled "El Ritmo de la Vida" or “The Rhythm of Life,” to George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. This innovative program features classical Spanish music with a jazz flair, gorgeous American and Latino ballads, and great music from films. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

After an illustrious 30-year career on "The Tonight Show" and years of traveling the country with his band, Severinsen retired to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He first heard the rousing combo of Gutiérrez and Cartas playing at an Italian bistro to throngs of admirers, both American and Latino. He later recorded a few tunes with the duo before asking to join them. “I came to Mexico with retirement on my mind, but when I heard them play I knew that I would be playing with them for some time to come,” Severinsen said. “Latino music, along with the blues has always been my favorites, and Gil and Pedro do it along with a European style that I love, and so do our audiences.” The exciting program includes works by Ennio Morricone, Astor Piazzolla, Django Reinhardt and Chick Corea.

Born in the small town of Arlington, Oregon, Carl H. Severinsen was nicknamed “Doc” because his father was a dentist. He originally wanted to play trombone, but had to settle for the only horn available in his town’s music store – the trumpet. Within a week, 7-year-old Severinsen was playing with the high school band. He toured with jazz orchestras before serving in the Army during World War II, and performed with the Charlie Barnett Band, and the bands of Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman during the 1940s, before landing a gig with "The Tonight Show" band.  In 1962, he became the first trumpet, and became the musical director from 1967-1992, staying until Johnny Carson’s departure in 1992. After the show ended, Severinsen continued to perform with and conduct major orchestras throughout the United States and Canada, and tour with his former band members from "The Tonight Show." He has made more than 30 albums – from big band, to jazz-fusion, to classical – and received a Grammy Award for “Best Jazz instrumental Performance – Big Band” for his recording "Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Band-Volume I."

Gutiérrez and Cartas have been performing as the duo “Gil and Cartas” internationally and have formed extraordinary ensembles with guest musicians worldwide. Gutiérrez has played with jazz combos throughout the world, and recently completed a 7-year tour with Latin-American pop stars Ana Gabriel and Ricardo Arjona. Cartas has been featured in such orchestras as Cuba’s National Symphonic Orchestras and Querétaro, Mexico’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Luis Conte is considered one of the best Latin percussionists in the world, and is currently the house drummer for ABC’s "Dancing with the Stars."


The Center for the Arts is pleased to recognize the generous support of PNC and the PNC Foundation as sponsor of the 2008-09 Great Performances at Mason Season.

Tickets for DOC SEVERINSEN'S "EL RITMO DE LA VIDA" are $54, $46, $27. Family Friendly! Children 12 and under half price! Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit 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

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.