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Schlesinger Center Takes Center Stage In Northern Virginia

Alexandria, VA (October, 2001) - After much anticipation, the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center opened to the public last month on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College. The Center features the breathtaking 1,000-seat Mary Collier Baker Theater, the beautiful glass-enclosed Wachovia Forum, the intimate Margaret W. and Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery and Internet-ready seminar rooms.

Community-wide discussions between the college and local arts groups in the early 1990's led to the concept for a premier performing arts center on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. As plans for the Center developed, details were added to the design so that the building could accommodate large performance groups and off-Broadway theater companies, yet remain remarkably affordable for local non-profit organizations.

Leslie A. White accepted the position as Managing Director of the Schlesinger Center in May 2000. Dr. White has been involved in theatre production since 1972, working as a master electrician, stage manager, production technician, lighting designer and theatre teacher. While Dr. White spent eleven years in theatre management before moving to the Schlesinger Center, she says the last year has entailed a steep learning curve. "I've spent the last year meeting lots of people and absorbing information. I've also spent a lot of time attending performing arts events and learning about the local arts scene," said White.

As the curtain rises on an exciting debut season at the Schlesinger Center, its two resident companies - the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and the Arlington Symphony - prepare to welcome audiences into their new home. The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra kicked off a five-concert series on September 22nd, followed by the Arlington Symphony's opening gala concert on September 29th.

The Center is named for the wife of former Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy Dr. James R. Schlesinger. Mrs. Schlesinger was a violinist and board member of the Arlington Symphony.

Despite her responsibilities as a wife and mother of eight children, Mrs. Schlesinger worked tirelessly to raise money for the Center, but never saw the dream become a reality - she died of cancer in October 1995. In 1996, Dr. Schlesinger donated $1 million to name the Center in his wife's memory.

The Schlesinger Center will be dedicated on October 19th during a ceremony that will include local dignitaries, members of the Schlesinger family and supporters of the arts throughout Northern Virginia.

For more information on the Schlesinger Center, please contact Leslie White at (703) 845-6229 or by e-mail at lwhite@nvcc.edu.

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