If you find yourself dreaming of exotic destinations this winter, check out this weekend’s offerings at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax.
Travel to Spain with legendary flamenco guitarist Paco Peña and his troupe of talented singers, musicians and dancers on Friday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. In this performance titled “Flamenco Vivo,” the journey begins with the most primitive forms of flamenco and continues on to the highest levels of modern flamenco, demonstrating the rhythmic complexities of this passionate art form.
Though its origins are debatable, flamenco was born centuries ago in Andalucía in southern Spain and reflects Arabic, Jewish, Christian and Gypsy musical traditions, among others. For many who have witnessed flamenco, it becomes more than a style of dance, music and song as it touches the deepest of human emotions. On his website, Peña describes this phenomena by saying, “It is a complete way of life, and is the expression of a deep feeling, which has to do with happiness, love, sadness, death, hardship and the struggle for life.”
Born in the Andalucían city of Córdoba, Peña began learning guitar at the age of 6 and was a guitar prodigy by 12 years old, when he made his first professional appearance. In the 1960s, he skyrocketed to fame and was embraced for his brilliant solo recitals, which included performances at Royal Albert Hall in London and New York’s Carnegie Hall. In 1970, he founded The Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company, enabling him to play and tour with his own handpicked company of dancers, guitarists and singers. Since then, Peña and his troupe have performed regular seasons in London and at other venues across the globe.
The next destination lies in Asia as the China National Symphony Orchestra performs classical music from both Eastern and Western cultures under the baton of Li Xincao on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. The program for this performance includes the opening movement from Chinese composer and China National Symphony Orchestra Director Guan Xia’s “Requiem for the Earth”; Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with celebrated violin soloist Yang Xu; and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.
Founded in 1956, the China National Symphony Orchestra has earned the praise of audiences and critics alike in both its homeland and abroad. The orchestra skillfully performs from an immense and diverse repertoire of classical, romantic, modern and contemporary orchestral works by both Western and Asian composers. The ensemble has collaborated with numerous classical music luminaries, including such conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Slatkin, Kurt Masur and Charles Dutoit; and such instrumentalists as Isaac Stern, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang.
As the principal resident conductor of the China National Symphony Orchestra, Li Xincao has led the ensemble in performances at prestigious venues across the globe, including Lincoln Center, Sydney Opera House and Tokyo Suntory Hall. In addition to his role with the China National Symphony Orchestra, he is also the principal conductor of the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra.
Yang Xu was first noticed when he was featured in China’s New Year’s Eve Celebration Gala at age 12. He has since earned numerous prestigious awards in international competitions, making his American debut in 1999. Yang became a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2008, and has performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York and at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Europe and Asia await your arrival at these two unique performances. Additionally, both shows offer ticket holders a pre-performance discussion, which begins 45 minutes prior to each performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III and is sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts.
Tickets to these performances can be purchased at the box office at George Mason University's Center for the Arts (open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) or by calling 888-945-2468 or visiting cfa.gmu.edu. George Mason University's Center for the Arts is located on Mason's Fairfax Campus, at the intersection of Braddock Rd. and Rt. 123. Free parking is available in Lot K and paid parking is available in the Mason Pond Parking Deck adjacent to the Concert Hall.
For more information about these performances or other events at George Mason University's Center for the Arts, please visit cfa.gmu.edu. Like the Center for the Arts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gmucfa and follow the Center for the Arts on Twitter at @GMU_CFA.