American Festival Pops Orchestra

Press Releases


Released Aug. 11, 2009


Benefit event features a sampling of student performances, fine food and a concert by Tony Award-winning leading man Brian Stokes Mitchell with the debut of the American Festival Pops Orchestra under the baton of Anthony Maiello

Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 at 5 p.m.

FAIRFAX, Va., August 11, 2009—George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) is proud to announce the fourth annual ARTS by George!—a benefit event that supports student scholarships and the Great Performances at Mason series—at Mason’s Fairfax campus on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. The evening begins with an exciting showcase of the extraordinary artistic talents of Mason students and faculty, as well as unique silent auction of arts-related items and experiences. ARTS by George! culminates in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall with a performance by acclaimed Tony Award-winning Broadway artist Brian Stokes Mitchell. Mitchell will be accompanied by the American Festival Pops Orchestra, which makes its debut, performing under the direction of Anthony Maiello. ARTS by George! is generously supported by many metro area individuals and businesses. Event co-chairs are long-time local arts supporter Julie Dyson of Alexandria, and Enrique Tessada, founder and chairman of Tessada & Associates, Inc. in Springfield, Va. Sponsorship co-chairs are Carolyn Peterson and Don Conwell.

ARTS by George! is a unique evening of music, dance, theater, visual art and creative cuisine, celebrating the excellence of the arts at Mason. Attendees embark on an artistic journey winding through CVPA’s studios, while sampling delicacies and enjoying artistic presentations by Mason students. It is an exciting opportunity for attendees to view “works in progress” by CVPA’s talented student and faculty artists.

Patrons will once again have the opportunity to participate in a unique silent auction of arts-related items, services and experiences, which will begin at 5 p.m. Several of the items up for bid include artwork created by Mason faculty, students and alumni, as well as work by professional artists; private tours with Mason faculty at museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. and New York City; consultations with CVPA administration for businesses and non-profits; opportunities to meet Olympia Dukakis, Mark Morris and the Virginia Opera artists; private voice, conducting and instrumental lessons with Mason music faculty; and an opportunity to join CVPA Dean William Reeder and former Redskins players in a round of golf.

At 8 p.m., guests arrive in the Concert Hall for a performance by Brian Stokes Mitchell with the American Festival Pops Orchestra. Vincent Oppido, a graduate student in Mason’s School of Music, has collaborated with Mitchell to arrange an original overture of beloved songs from Broadway musicals in which Mitchell has appeared.

Dubbed Broadway’s “last leading man” by The New York Times, Brian Stokes Mitchell has enjoyed a rich career on Broadway, television and film. This tremendous baritone is known for his musical versatility, charisma and “chameleonic” ability to evoke any emotion. He has received numerous accolades for his work including a Tony Award for “Kiss Me, Kate,” and Tony nominations for “Man of La Mancha,” “Ragtime” and “King Hedley II.” He has also appeared in television roles on “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Crossing Jordan” and “Frasier.” For this unforgettable performance, Mitchell takes the stage for a spectacular evening of timeless show tunes, ballads and classic loves songs, such as “Embraceable You,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and his showstopper, “The Impossible Dream.” “He’s a talented musician and an engaging personality, but his rarest gift is for knocking show tunes over the moon.” (The Washington Post)

The American Festival Pops Orchestra, under the direction of Anthony Maiello, is composed of more than 60 professional musicians from across the Washington, D.C. area, including Mason faculty, musicians from the United States military ensembles and regional orchestras. The AFPO is also proud to include a select group of talented young artists from Mason’s School of Music.

“ARTS by George! is advancing to a new creative level,” Reeder said. “The formation of the professional American Festival Pops Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Anthony Maiello, and the collaboration between Brian Stokes Mitchell and CVPA graduate student Vincent Oppido represents a bold thrust of creativity. It is a natural extension of the academic, professional and community forces that constitute the Arts at Mason.”