10 Things to Know About UVA’s Oct. 6 Bicentennial Launch Celebration

Leslie Odom Jr., left, and Andra Day will perform at the Oct. 6 event on the Lawn.
September 21, 2017

On Oct. 6, the University of Virginia will mark the official start of its bicentennial events with a Bicentennial Launch Celebration, expected to draw more than 20,000 people to UVA’s historic Lawn.

The evening’s celebrations will be as varied and colorful as the University itself, with more than 800 student and faculty members performing on the Lawn alongside special guests from the music and entertainment world. All of them will tell the story of UVA as it has never been told before.

There will be musical performances, speeches, videos, a spectacular projection mapping show and more, all delivered on the kind of stage that only UVA can provide – the historic Academical Village, designed by Thomas Jefferson to promote a uniquely dynamic and vibrant living and learning environment.

Here are 10 things to know about this exciting celebration.  

Why Oct. 6?

Three U.S. presidents – Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and James Madison – attended the ceremonial placing of the University’s first cornerstone on Oct. 6, 1817. The University chose the 200th anniversary of that date as an appropriate time to kick off its bicentennial celebrations, which will continue through Final Exercises in May 2019, marking 200 years from UVA’s official charter in 1819.

What time does the show start?

The Bicentennial Launch Celebration will begin at 7 p.m. on Oct. 6 on the Lawn. Ticketed guests may begin entering the Lawn at 6 p.m.

Do I need a ticket?

All attendees will need a ticket and will pass through a security checkpoint to enter the event. Tickets are free. Ticket information is available at bicentennial.virginia.edu/launch-weekend.

Who will be performing?

Hundreds of students and faculty members will perform throughout the course of the evening, including music ensembles and a cappella groups; the color guards from UVA’s Army, Air Force and Navy ROTC programs; the Cavalier Marching Band; and more.

They will be joined by special guests Leslie Odom Jr., known for his Tony Award-winning performance as Aaron Burr in “Hamilton;” R&B powerhouse Andra Day, a Grammy Award-nominated singer known for her empowerment anthem, “Rise Up”; and the rock group the Goo Goo Dolls, who will close out the evening with a concert. Additional guests include the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Ingramettes, the Martin Luther King Community Choir of Charlottesville and the electronic music ensemble M.I.C.E.

The Charlottesville Symphony will also perform, directed by UVA Director of Choral Music and Associate Professor Michael Slon. They will perform a specially commissioned piece, “We Hold These Truths” by Jefferson Todd Frazier, that follows Thomas Jefferson as he composes the Declaration of Independence.

Who will be speaking?

Officials from UVA and the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as many alumni, will offer remarks.

Scheduled speakers include Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan. Famous alumni like Katie Couric and Jason George will make appearances, and acclaimed English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove will debut her new poem about Henry Martin, the University’s bell ringer from 1847 to 1909.

In addition, a special “Voices of the Descendants” series will feature descendants of enslaved laborers sharing their ancestors’ stories throughout the evening.

What will the projection mapping show look like?

State-of-the-art projection mapping technology will transform the Lawn before guests’ eyes and use UVA’s most iconic buildings as a stage for telling the University’s 200-year story and bringing some of its most significant moments to life.

Philippe Bergeron, president of Paintscaping Inc., called the UVA production one of “the most visible and complex jobs” his company has ever undertaken.

(Learn more about how projection mapping will transform the Lawn.)

Where will the stages be?

There will be two main stages on the Lawn. The largest will be directly in front of the Rotunda, providing a spectacular backdrop for performances and speakers. A second stage will be in the center of the Lawn, at the southern end of the Lawn’s third tier.

How long will the show last?

Performances are expected to last about three hours, followed by a 45-minute after-concert by the Goo Goo Dolls. Guests will be free to roam the Lawn, and limited seating will be available. Concessions will be available throughout.

Are there other events that weekend?

There are several additional events planned to celebrate the launch of UVA’s bicentennial celebrations throughout the weekend of Oct. 6-8. These include several talks on the history of the University and a ceremony marking the laying of the cornerstone near Pavilion VII that will include placing a new bicentennial marker there.

More information about these events and a full schedule can be found at bicentennial.virginia.edu/launch-weekend.

Are other bicentennial celebrations planned?

The University will continue to commemorate this unique moment in UVA’s history with other talks, exhibitions and events related to UVA’s past, present and future. These celebrations will span the University’s 11 schools and departments and will continue through 2019, which marks the 200th anniversary of UVA’s charter.

Updates about these events will be posted on bicentennial.virginia.edu.

Media Contact

Caroline Newman

Associate Editor Office of University Communications