Alumni Newsletter, Apr. 1, 2011



A Note From the Director


Dear School of Music Alumni,


I write this as George Mason University returns from a restorative spring break, and as we ready ourselves for a bustling and exhilarating culmination to the semester.


The School of Music has achieved some significant technological milestones this semester. We have redesigned our website, published a weekly online newsletter, and will soon launch our Facebook fan page. I encourage you to visit our website and take a moment to join our e-mail list. This will ensure that you are kept up-to-date on the latest news and performances at your alma mater.


Have you seen all the “rage” about the Green Machine? Their You Tube “Rage Medley” video has over one million views! You can also check out their adventures at the NCAA tournament in theirTravelBlog. Thank you and congratulations to the Green Machine for its dedication and support for our Patriots—both the men's and women's basketball teams— throughout an exciting season.


Closer to home, we say farewell this month to Karen Clark Evans as she retires after five years of wonderful service to the School ofMusic. I am certain that many of you will remember her well. She has provided outstanding advice to many students over these past five years. Please join me in thanking Karen for her service to the School of Music and to wish her the very best in a well-earned retirement!  


Finally, April and May promise to be busy months with musical performances that showcase the talent of our students and provide joy to our audiences. You will find them all on our newcalendar of events. In particular, I wish to draw your attention to our Opera Gala Concert, to be held in Harris Theater on April 26, and our annual Scholarship Benefit Concert, held in the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall on May 8. We have an outstanding lineup of student concerto soloists who were selected by competitive audition for this prestigious honor. We hope you will join us!


Extending Very Respectful Regards,



Dennis M. Layendecker, D.M.A.

Colonel, USAF (Ret.)

Heritage Chair in Music

Director, School of Music

Director of Orchestras

College of Visual and Performing Arts

George Mason University




Scholarship Benefit Concert



One of the School of Music’s most popular events, the Scholarship Benefit Concert, will be held on Sunday, May 8 at 7 p.m. This evening features solos by the winners of the annual Concerto Competition. The concert also includes performances by the Mason Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Dennis Layendecker, and the University Chorale and Singers, directed by Dr. Lisa Billingham and Dr. Stan Engebretson.


This year’s talented soloists are: Danielle Dean, soprano; Jihae Lim, piano; Ina Mirtcheva, piano; Aaron Morneau, saxophone; Amy Tann, flute; and Kasey Wilson, soprano.



Alumni Weekend 2011



Alumni Weekend is the newest tradition for Mason alumni. This year will mark the third annual event, to be held September 29-October 2. Head back to campus to see what’s new with Mason and reconnect with faculty and friends. 


Are you missing the days of playing in the Mason orchestra or singing in the choir? Then get ready to return to the Center for the Arts stage during Alumni Weekend! Sit in on rehearsals, and join School of Music students and alumni for a special performance. More information is coming soon.




Where Are They Now?



Tony Arnold, BA Music ‘08

Tony Arnold is putting his music degree and business minor to work at the Music and Arts Center, a retailer dealing with band, orchestra, and combo instruments. He has worked his way up from a part-time employee while a Mason student, to an assistant manager at the Burke location.

Arnold feels the most important aspect of his job is to ensure that educators are happy with the Center’s services and products. However, he claims that nothing beats the thrill of putting an instrument in the hands of a first-time player. “You never know if that student will one day pursue a career in music.”

In addition to his work at the Music and Arts Center, Arnold gives private saxophone and clarinet lessons for students at the elementary through high school levels.

Keep in Touch

In each issue of Music Matters, we will highlight a School of Musicalumnus. Let us know if you have career or personal news to share, and you could be featured.




New Friends of Music Alumni Membership



Friends of Music is an organization dedicated to providing financial and volunteer support to the School of Music so that it may fulfill its academic goals and programmatic aspirations. One of its most important roles is to provide Mason MusicAmbassadors, who welcome new students and encourage others to attend School of Music activities.


We want you to become a member! Friends of Music alumni members receive full membership benefits as well as:

  • Social gatherings and networking opportunities
  • Publicity for performances and recitals
  • Listing of availability for performances and teaching in FOM publications

Friends of Music has listened to feedback from alumni and is now offering a 50% discount on the membership fee for those who have graduated in the last five years.


More information about Friends of Music, including how to become a member, is available online.




Ensemble Spotlight



The Mason Jazz Ensemble offers music students many opportunities for improvisation, performance, recording, writing, leadership, and service. They perform regularly on campus at the Center for the Arts and the popular Bistro in the Johnson Center. Off-campus performances include jazz festivals, jazz clubs such as Blues Alley, and gigs at embassies and community events.  


The Mason Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Professor Jim Carroll, will have its spring concert on April 13 at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. 





President Merten

Announces Retirement


On March 23, Dr. Alan Merten announced his retirement as president of George Mason University, effective June 2012.


For the past 16 years, President Merten, and his wife, Sally, have been major supporters of musicat Mason. President Merten was instrumental in the construction of the de Laski Performing Arts Building. He and Sally have been generous in their personal support of scholarships for musicstudents, and it is not uncommon to find the Mertens at School of Music performances and attending Friends of Musicreceptions. Together, they helped make music central to the life of the university and the greater community.


To leave a message of congratulations and support for President Merten, or for more information on the presidential transition,