George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Guest Artists

At Mason, We Bring Greatness to You. 

Every semester, artists at the top of their field are on our stages, in our classrooms, and with our students.

You will learn from some of the world’s most successful artists in master classes, lectures, workshops, and artist conversations. We bring over 50 world-renowned performing artists to stages on the Mason campuses every year and provide free tickets to students. Many of these same artists come into our classrooms to share their expertise. You'll take in exhibitions by leading visual artists and then hear how they transform their vision into inspiring pieces in our studios. 

Master Classes

At Mason, you'll attend master classes with artists at the top of their field. Learn from the instruction and expertise of these nationally and internationally recognized artists. Master classes regularly happen in our Schools of Art, Music, Dance, and Theater.

Recent master classes include sessions with:

  • RUBBERBANDance Group, dance. Junior and Senior dancers were able to study the Rubberband Method during a master class from the Montreal RUBBERBANDance Group before they went on to perform at the Center for the Arts. 
  • Simone Dinnerstein, music. Virtuoso pianist, at Mason for a performance at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, took time to hold a masterclass with Mason piano students.
  • Kim Davis, Dance. School of Dance alumna came back to Mason with the new troupe she joined, DanceWorks Chicago, to work with dance students.
  • Peter Bernstein, music. Jazz guitarist, Peter Bernstein, worked with music students at a 2019 Masterclass.
  • Peter Erskine, music. Grammy-Winning drummer, Peter Erskine, instructed Mason students during a clinic on the Fairfax Campus. 
  • Paige Whitley-Bauguess, theater. A Baroque dancer who interprets, recreates, and performs Baroque theatre dance in venues all over the world.
  • Paul Edmund Davies, music. An internationally renowned flautist and soloist who has spent 20 years as the Principal Flute of the London Symphony Orchestra and 5 years in the same position at the Philharmonia Orchestra.
  • Dan Mirvish, film and video. Director, screenwriter, producer, author and inventor.
  • Christine Vachon, film and video. Award-winning independent producer known for the acclaimed films Carole, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Boys Don’t Cry.
  • Aurelio Martinezmusic. A singer-songwriter, guitarist and percussionist, Aurelio, is one of Central America’s most gifted performers. 
  • Doug Varone, dance. For more than 30 years, Doug Varone and Dancers has devoted itself to the humanity and virtuosity of dance.
  • Ed Asner, theater. American actor, primarily known for his role as Lou Grant during the 1970s and early 1980s, on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Lou Grant.
  • Ida Kavafian, music. Internationally acclaimed violist as well as violinist.
  • Lar Lubovitch, dance. One of America’s most versatile, popular and widely seen choreographers. Based in New York City, Lubovitch’s company has performed throughout the world.
  • Doc Severinsen, trumpet. Grammy-award winning Doc Severinsen was the bandleader on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Since it's end in 1992, he and his Big Band have been on the road.
  • Mark Morris, dance. Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) has been called “the preeminent modern dance organization of our time” (Yo-Yo Ma).
  • Jenelle Lynn Randall, theater. Actress known for Law & Order: Special Victims UnitThe Young and the Restless and Boardwalk Empire

Lectures and Artist Conversations

Mason students can hear guest speakers talk about what it takes to succeed in their fields, personal stories, even the nitty-gritty of their art form. Each semester brings many opportunities to hear from rising stars, renowned masters, and industry leaders in music, filmmaking, visual art, dance, game design, theater, arts management, and graphic design in lectures, conversations, and workshops.

Visual Voices Series features nationally recognized artists and designers in a lecture series, as well as studio visits. Recent speakers include: artist and critical writer Buzz Spector; photographer Kristine Potter; artist, Steve Carpenter; artist, Annette Polan, and artist Sheldon ScottLearn more.

Pre-performance discussions occur 45 minutes prior to each Great Performances at Mason and Hylton Presents performance.

Fimmaker Q&As frequently follow film screenings on campus and provide opportunities for students to gain insight into the field of filmmaking. Recent Q&As included independent Egyptian filmmaker, Tamer El Said and producer and director, Kimberley Reed.

Q&A with Audra McDonald (Tony, Grammy®, and Emmy® Award winner), who performed at the ARTS by George! benefit in the Fall of 2019 in the Concert Hall.

Computer Game Design industry experts often come to campus as guest speakers to present their work and discuss current issues in the field. Recent speakers include Ken Rowlston, Jay Posey, Rafael Chandler, Peter Lipman, and Bruce Nesmith.

School of Music invited Dr. Ron McCurdy, University of Southern California Professor of Music, to talk on preparing students for the business aspect of a future in music or general arts professions.

Making Connections: Transforming Arts Leadership Three times a year, artists and major arts leaders are brought in for events with students and alumni to address contemporary topics in arts management. These events offer networking opportunities to emerging and mid-career arts managers, and serve to strengthen the connection between alumni and the Mason arts management community. Guests include:

Nina Simon, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and author of The Participatory Museum.

Doug Borwick, Author of Engaging Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S.

Artist Residencies

Prominent artists frequently come to Mason for a few days, a week, or a semester to teach and mentor students in their craft. These residencies offer more extended and intensive opportunities to work with master artists.

In the fall of 2019, Latin powerhouse, LADAMA, spent five days as artists in residence at Mason and in northern VA, sharing their love for music making with others so that they might make a meaningful connection as well. Over the course of the week, these inspirational women shared their music and passion with more than 1,450 people ranging from elementary school-aged to vibrant seniors. See where they performed.

Each semester the Film and Video Studies (Film at Mason) students collaborate on location to produce a short film for the Mason Film Lab. Producing students spend class time over the semester producing the location shoot and then collaborate on set with students in Cinematography to crew the short film. Recent guest artists working with the students include writer/director/producer Colette Burson and graduate of New York's School of Visual Arts, Nefertite Nguvu.

Since 2006, the School of Art, Navigation Press program has invited artists with national and international reputations to work directly with our students in the creation of an original edition of prints. For 2017, visiting artist Louis M. Schmidt, will be presenting work from this year's edition, a silkscreen accordion fold book, as well as a small portfolio of recent drawings and photographs:

The School of Dance hosts resident guest artists each year to cast student dancers and conduct intensive rehearsals. Recent choreography includes that of:

In the School of Theater, resident artists frequently teach a course and work alongside students in an acting, directing, or technical role. Recent resident artists in theater include:

  • Thomas W. Jones II - Directed, written and performed in more than 200 plays worldwide. 
  • Kelli O'Hara - The American actress and classically-trained singer has appeared in many Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals.
  • Luciana Stecconi - A scenic designer who has designed sets for more than 70 shows, mostly in the Washington, D.C., area. 
  • Jenelle Lynn Randall - An actress who has also appeared on Broadway and Off-Broadway. 
  • Ed Asner - Actor, activist and winner of seven acting Emmy Awards.
  • Stacy Keach - A noted actor of stage and film.

Free Tickets to World Class Performances

Part of your arts education should be spent watching and listening to the experts doing what they do best. At Mason, we give students free tickets for more than 100 performances each year at the Center for the Arts and the Hylton Performing Arts Center. We believe arts students should be exposed to the best performing arts from around the world, and we prove it: There are 500 free tickets for students for each Great Performances at Mason event. Full-time Mason students are eligible to get free tickets for music, dance, opera, theater, and more.

Recent performers and performances include:

  • The Manhattan Transfer
  • Compania Flamenca Eduardo Gerrero
  • Mark Morris Dance Group
  • The Mason Originals!
  • The Martial Artists and Acrobats of Tianjin
  • Hamlet
  • The Vienna Boys Choir
  • Pilobolus
  • Dublin Irish Dance
  • Parsons Dance
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Metropoplitan Jazz Orchestra with Bria Skonberg
  • Swan Lake
  • The King's Singers
  • Moscow Festival Ballet
Schools & Programs