A group of Friends of the Center for the Arts celebrated the announcement of the 2019/2020 season of Great Performances at Mason on April 3rd in the lobby of the Center for the Arts (CFA) Concert Hall. We exchanged friendly chatter as we gazed up at the array of festive new posters along the Grand Tier II balcony walls. We munched on a suite of hors d’oeuvres, each chosen to match the style of one of the 2019/2020 Great Performances at Mason, and sipped champagne cocktails, wine, and other beverages from the bar. We relaxed at small tables amidst the soft glow and ambiance of a charming supper club, complete with background jazz music provided by College of Visual and Performing Arts musicians. Also, there was time to enter the annual door-prize drawing whose winners were to be announced just prior to desserts and coffee.
Then, with great anticipation, we took our seats in the Concert Hall to be greeted from the stage by several presenters well-known to the Friends.
- Rick Davis, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, welcomed us with his trademark wit and exuberance. Later, he performed “vocals” as Music Professor and Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra Artistic Director Jim Carroll accompanied him on the saxophone. Their entertaining selection, included piano and bass and whetted our musical appetites for the next season’s fare.
- Adrienne Bryant Godwin, in her first season as Programming Manager for the CFA, recalled the growth and success of the CFA over almost 30 years, noting development of a “community tradition of having fine artists from around the globe.” Her goals for the upcoming season include “working to expand on the arts experience” of CFA patrons, as well as “audience engagement.” She noted that the new season “helps fulfill our mission to make the arts an intrinsic part of the lives of our community members.”
Using video clips, Adrienne described each performance and highlighted some of the initiatives of the new season:
- An inaugural “Mason Artists-in-Residence” program to assist in bringing the arts to the Northern Virginia community as well as enriching the educational experience of CVPA students.
- Continuation of the very popular Family Series of “Great Family Entertainment at Affordable Family Prices.”
- Famed modern dance troupe Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in performance of the world premiere of Jones’ On the Water, a work co-commissioned with the CFA.
- Anne Bolger and Steven Golsch expressed pleasure at Co-Chairing the 14th annual ARTS by George! benefit event. It will be held on September 28, 2019, and feature Broadway star Audra McDonald in her debut at the CFA in a concert of Broadway hits and selections from the Great American Songbook.
- Walt Smith, outgoing President of the FCFA, thanked the Friends for their vital support for the CFA’s mission, encouraged members to increase their support where possible, and urged them to be good “ambassadors” for the FCFA.
- Paulette Miller, Co-Vice President for Events, noted that one of greatest benefits of being a Friend (at the Contributor Level or higher) is the opportunity to attend several “Artists in Conversation” events throughout the season. These events include a themed reception with light refreshments, along with interesting, behind-the-scenes discussions led by guest artists and local experts. Paulette noted, “We need people to put these events on. If you like to plan events, if you wondered how we do these, then sign up and we’ll call and tell you about it. Thank you for thinking about it.”
The question and answer portion of the entertainment included an enjoyable taking turns by Rick, Adrienne, and Betsy Yancey, Audience Services Manager, calling out their choices of not-to-be-missed performances by some of next season’s first-time performers at the CFA.
Be sure to read the Great Performances at Mason 2019/2020 Season brochure which has been mailed out to the FCFA membership and note the return of some popular standards as well as the slate of “new-to-the CFA” performers. And don’t forget that the website cfa.gmu.edu also has detailed descriptions of each performance, and, as Betsy had reminded Friends in the audience, be sure to take advantage of the subscriber tips detailed in the brochure. Also, note that, from now and at least through June, the website will include videos of the artists at work, to help you make selections to enjoy during the exciting new season ahead!