Each season, the Center for the Arts invites artists and ensembles with innovative artistic voices to make George Mason University their home for a residency.
The following artists have been chosen to participate in the Mason Artist-in-Residence program this 2023/2024 season. In addition to their respective performances, the ensembles will lead a variety of events, classes, and discussions across the Mason campus and wider community. The Center for the Arts is thrilled to present three 2023/2024 Mason Artists-in-Residence: Silkroad Ensemble, A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, and Small Island Big Song.
Returning for their second of three years as a Mason Artist-in-Residence, GRAMMY-winning Silkroad Ensemble presents the exciting world premiere of American Railroad on November 5, an initiative that maps American music through the various immigrant communities involved in building the late-1800s Transcontinental Railroad. Artistic Director and 2023 Pulitzer Prize winner Rhiannon Giddens joins the ensemble for this performance, which is told through the stories and sounds of African American, Chinese, Irish, Mexican, and Native American communities. Traditional instruments—such as the guzheng, pipa, erhu, and qinqin—cross paths with fiddles, bones, tambo, and banjo to remind audiences of America’s intricately interwoven history.
On February 17, “one of the most consistently excellent troupes working today” (The New York Times) A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, performs at the Center. Founded by MacArthur Genius Award-winning choreographer Kyle Abraham, this Black-led contemporary dance company aims to create a body of dance-based work galvanized by Black culture and history. Abraham’s dance aesthetic defies genre, mixing and morphing from social dance to classical dance styles and back again, and the Center presents his visionary works which uncover the relationships between identity, history, and geography. “It is a crazy, sexy, cool fusion of elite/street/afro-punkism that is a visual feast” (Dance Magazine). Watch the video below for a preview of the electrifying work A.I.M by Kyle Abraham has to offer.
In honor of Earth Day, join Small Island Big Song on April 20 for a moving concert experience combining music, spoken word, and stunning projections to shine a light on the effects of global warming on 16 Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations. Framed against panoramic visuals, more than 100 indigenous artists showcase oceanic grooves and island ballads, highlighting a shared seafaring ancestry with interconnected musical traditions. These unique lineages mixed with their diverse contemporary styles—roots-reggae, beats, grunge, R&B, folk and spoken-word—establish a musical dialogue between cultures as far afield as Madagascar, Aotearoa, Taiwan, Mauritius, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, and Rapa Nui. Billboard ASIA describes Small Island Big Song as “one coherent jaw-dropping piece that is likely the first time these traditional instruments have been mixed together... The result is breathtaking.”