UVA's Bicentennial Launch Celebration
Welcome UVA to the third century!
On the evening of October 6th, 2017, the University of Virginia celebrated the historic Laying of the Cornerstone by Jefferson, Madison and Monroe with an opening night ceremony entitled the Bicentennial Launch Celebration. In partnership with UVA Arts, the Bicentennial Launch Celebration featured performances by more than 750 UVA students and faculty alongside special guests including Tony Award-winning actor and singer, Leslie Odom Jr., Grammy Award-nominated artist, Andra Day, and the Goo Goo Dolls. The evening of performances and celebrations commemorated the first 200 years and envisioned the next 200 years here at the University of Virginia.
Spectacular Projection Mapping wove the arts performances together by highlighting milestones throughout the University’s history, beginning with the enslaved laborers building the Rotunda and the Academical Village brick by brick. Later, the Rotunda caught fire as it did in 1895. The projection mapping continued through UVA’s history, even propelling the crowd into space and the idea of what UVA might look like in 200 years.
Philippe Bergeron, owner of Paintscaping Inc., created the stunning visuals and state-of-the-art technology that transformed the Rotunda. Phillippe describes the Bicentennial Launch Celebration as “the most visible and complex job we have ever done.”
Vice Provost for the Arts and Director of the Virginia Film Festival, Jody Kielbasa, and Producing Director of the Bicentennial Launch Celebration, opened the evening with an ode to the UVA Arts community, “enthusiasm and creativity served as inspiration for our vision to make the Arts a centerpiece of this event’s celebration.” Jody also nodded to his friend and colleague, Mitch Levine, the celebration’s Creative Director who “worked tirelessly to make this event happen.”
President Teresa A. Sullivan highlighted the beginning of the Bicentennial, saying “Tonight we cast our gaze in three directions. We look backward, to celebrate the University of Virginia’s monumental achievements over the past two centuries. We look inward to our shared commitment to the University that we love and cherish. And we look forward, with great hope and optimism, to the future that we and generations to come will shape for our University.”
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe encouraged the audience to “be a revolutionary for justice, for inclusion and for bringing people together” as UVA steps into its third century.
Nearly 19,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered on the Lawn to celebrate and video coverage earned more than 75,000 views on Facebook. In addition, over 50 UVA Clubs participated worldwide.
Working with the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection & the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Monacan Tribal Leaders and Monacan Indian Dancers, led by Karenne Wood, performed a colorful blessing drum and dance.
The University Singers and the Charlottesville Symphony debuted a specially commissioned piece, We Hold These Truths, with soloists Janice Chandler-Eteme, Glenn Seven Allen, narrator Bill Barker and guest conductor Michael Slon, and composed by J. Todd Frazier.
Leslie Odom Jr. mesmorized the Lawn with his performances from Hamilton, such as Wait for It, Dear Theodosia, and Room Where It Happens, along with Autumn Leaves, and a cover of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young.
“I have never in my lifetime seen a community rally like this and take charge of their present, take ownership of their past and lay claim to their future in this way,” Odom said. “You have a friend in me forever and ever.”
Leontyne Clay Peck gripped the audience speaking “We are here in the flesh representing the strong spirits of our ancestors. We are here because they were here 200 years ago. We honor their humanity and ultimate sacrifices of freedom and identity.”
UVA faculty member and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove debuted her newly commissioned poem, The Bellringer, about Henry Martin, who was born in slavery at Monticello and worked as the bell ringer.
The Ingramettes sparked emotion with their powerful voices, along with the MLK Gospel Choir, performing Glory and We Shall Overcome.
Joseph Mills combined dance and visual art with his performance on the main stage, while the Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble (MICE) created the perfect soundtrack Jefferson’s Clocks on the center stage.
Special guest R&B singer Andra Day took the stage performing songs including Strange Fruit, Gold, a cover of Queen’s I Want It All and anthem Rise Up.
Andra Day expressed to the crowed “I want to thank UVA for being a place of hope, for asking the right questions, for continuing to progress…”
At the end of the night, the crowd cheered as the Cavalier Marching Band took the stage. Together Hoos linked arms as they sang the Good Old Song.
The Goo Goo Dolls ended the night with an after-concert, playing all their hits and leaving the Bicentennial Launch Celebration audience smiling.
Welcome UVA to the third century.