What once was entertainment enjoyed at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello plantation again took center stage Sunday at the University of Virginia’s Rotunda.

As part of the Charlottesville community’s celebration of Juneteenth, the Jefferson-designed landmark hosted “Rock and Reel: Monticello’s Folk Traditions,” presented by the Early Music Access Project. The event featured Seattle-based fiddler Benjamin Hunter and storyteller Sheila Arnold, alongside baroque violinists David McCormick and Carmen Johnson-Pájaro, Dominic Giardino on historical clarinets and Loren Ludwig on early American bass viols.

Attendees toured UVA’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers before moving on to the Rotunda’s Dome Room for the free concert.

Sunday’s event was part of the Early Music Access Project’s “Expanding the Narrative” program, which its website describes as “our ongoing project to tell the story of early Black American music, particularly at Monticello, [bringing] together Black performers, composers, and scholars to tell the forgotten stories of extraordinary enslaved and free Black musicians who made an enormous impact on American culture.”

Musicians play various string instruments in the Dome Room for Rock and Reel
A view of crowd and string players in the Dome Room
Close up from behind of string musician and an over the shoulder view of the music sheets being referenced

Media Contact

Bethanie Glover

Deputy University Spokesperson