Featured a Gala Performance by jazz-pop sensation The Manhattan Transfer with the American Festival Pops Orchestra
Plus student showcases, food and beverage stations, auctions, and more!
George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts presented its 13th annual ARTS by George! benefit on Saturday, September 29, 2018. The philanthropic event raised support for student scholarships in visual arts, dance, music, theater, computer game design, film and video studies, and arts management, as well as for the Mason Community Arts Academy, the Green Machine Ensembles, and the Great Performances at Mason series. “This event has become one of the premier nights on the artistic and social calendars of Northern Virginia because there is, quite literally, no other evening like it anywhere,” shared Rick Davis, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. He continued, “our patrons saw brilliant student performances and interactive exhibitions up-close; met faculty, staff, and students (and each other!); partook of first-class food and drink; and placed bids on one-of-a-kind items in both silent and live auctions—all before gathering in the Concert Hall to see a world-class headliner. It was a non-stop feast for all of the senses, including the heart, mind, and soul.”
On site alone, the event raised more than $50,000! Overall, the benefit garnered more than $140,000 in support of CVPA student scholarships and community arts programs, which include the Great Performances at Mason series at the Center for the Arts, Green Machine Ensembles, and the Mason Community Arts Academy.
Inside the 10 open studios and rehearsal halls, guests enjoyed behind-the-scenes access and sneak peeks of upcoming student productions, such as Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This year’s event also featured first-time showcases by the Mason Community Arts Academy and the Green Machine Ensembles. As guests traveled from one showcase to the next, they were treated to scrumptious cuisine and beverages from local purveyors, including Catering by LT and Bonefish Grill, among others. The ARTS by George! benefit event would not have been complete without the Silent and Live Auctions, where guests bid on a chance to win an array of exclusive arts-related items and experiences. The highlights of this year’s auctions were: an orchestra conducting experience, including dinner with Anthony Maiello, CVPA faculty and conductor of the American Festival Pops Orchestra, and the opportunity to guest conduct at a concert during the orchestra’s 2019/20 season at the Center for the Arts; and, a luxurious weekend in Virginia’s wine country with two nights in a suite at The Rooms Up There in the charming village of Marshall, plus private car service and dining at a myriad of fine restaurants, wineries, and eateries, such as Red Truck Bakery, Field & Main, The Front Porch, Whole Ox, Miracle Valley, Naked Mountain, Three Fox, Blue Valley, and Cobbler Mountain. Bidding kiosks were set up throughout the deLaski Performing Arts Building and staffed by CVPA students throughout the event.
The evening’s festivities culminated with a Gala Performance by multi-Grammy Award®-winning vocal sensation The Manhattan Transfer. Since the early 1970s, this legendary quartet has revolutionized vocal jazz with its impeccable harmonies and crisp interpretations of classics. They gained mainstream popularity with the release of their hit single “Operator,” as well as the remake of their signature song “Birdland.” Most recently, The Manhattan Transfer joined a cappella group Take 6 in the PBS Special, The Summit: The Manhattan Meets Take 6, which was released this past spring. Also, in 2018, the celebrated quartet released its first album in a decade, entitled The Junction. For this concert, they joined the American Festival Pops Orchestra and its Artistic Director/Founder Anthony Maiello to present a dynamic evening of vocal and instrumental swing, doo-wop, jazz, and pop. The orchestra appeared under the batons of both Maestro Maiello and The Manhattan Transfer’s Musical Director of 39 years, Yaron Gershovsky.
The Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble made a special appearance, directed by Dr. Darden Purcell, CVPA Director of Jazz Studies/Jazz Voice. This award-winning student group performed “Dreams” and their tour de force, “No More Blues,” a piece custom-arranged for them by AFPO Composer/Arranger-in-Residence, Bryan Kidd. In a joint statement, Jay Speer and Donn Smith shared: “we were thrilled to be co-chairing this year’s ARTS by George! and feel proud to support the stellar work being done by students, faculty, and staff in George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and Center for the Arts. Their creativity, passion, and talents inspire us as individuals and elevate us as a community.”