Metro Weekly

Fall and Winter 2021 Highlights at GMU Center for the Arts

Dianne Reeves, Lightwire Theater, The Nutcracker, and more!

gmu, Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves

Hard to believe, but we’re already less than a month out from Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. And when you’re ready to get festive, consider the Center for the Arts at George Mason University, which has a range of upcoming programming to get everyone in the spirit.

If anyone could convert Scrooge and his Bah Humbug bunch, it’s Dianne Reeves. The preeminent jazz vocalist of our time — “the most admired jazz diva since the heyday of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday,” says the New York Times — makes her debut at Mason with a program inspired by her exceptional 2004 holiday set Christmas Time is Here, which kicks off with one of the best and certainly sultriest renditions of “Little Drummer Boy” you’ve ever heard. Reeves just has an exquisitely captivating way of really digging into a song to expose every possible meaning and color. (12/4)

The first official seasonal offering comes the week before, over Thanksgiving weekend, with the return of Canadian Brass, five Canucks known for their enthusiastic playing, witty repartee, and vibrant sound, with the holiday program “Making Spirits Bright” (11/27). Later that weekend comes Lightwire Theater, a multimedia, multi-genre troupe that concluded its run on NBC’s America’s Got Talent as semi-finalists. A Very Electric Holiday is an imaginative story, cleverly told using electroluminescent puppetry, live dancers, and a riveting mix of classical, jazz, and pop music, and focused on a young bird separated from his flock while flying south for the winter, whose odyssey to reunite with his flock includes encounters with “dancing poinsettias, caroling critters, Nutcracker soldiers, mischievous mice, and an evil rat king.” (11/28)

Canadian Brass, gmu
Canadian Brass

December also brings the annual “Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season” concert from Northern Virginia’s American Festival Pops Orchestra, billed as a “heartwarming evening of holiday favorites [and] a festive audience sing-along” (12/11), and the sixth annual collaboration between the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and the Fairfax Ballet for the holiday staple The Nutcracker — one of the few offerings of the Tchaikovsky classic in the area performed with live musical accompaniment (12/18-19).

Not every day — or show — between now and New Year’s is a holiday out at the Center in Fairfax. The performance schedule also includes a program of radiant Romantic-era works by the chamber ensemble the Jerusalem Quartet featuring violinist Pinchas Zukermann and cellist Amanda Forsyth (11/7); La Bohème: Rodolfo Remembers, a condensed version of the Puccini classic about a bunch of Bohemians as performed by the Virginia Opera, the Commonwealth’s official company (11/13-14); and another hybrid “Keyboard Conversations” performance with discussion program from pianist Jeffrey Siegel focused on The Glorious Music of Chopin (11/21).

The Concert Hall at the GMU Center for the Arts is at 4373 Mason Pond Drive, Fairfax, Va. Ticket prices vary. Call 888-945-2468 or visit

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