U.Va. Librarian Composes Musical Ode to Semester at Sea's 100th Voyage

November 19, 2009
November 19, 2009 — Semester at Sea is making its 100th voyage this fall and University of Virginia librarian and composer Fred O'Bryant has written a concert march to commemorate the occasion.

The Charlottesville Municipal Band will premiere "MV Explorer," named for the Semester at Sea ship, in a joint concert with the U.Va. Wind Ensemble, Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students, unless free tickets are reserved by 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

"I had been thinking of writing a march of some kind last summer, when it came to my attention that the 100th voyage was coming up this fall," said O'Bryant, an applied sciences librarian at the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library who has never been on the ship.

O'Bryant said his rousing concert march seeks to depict the mystery and grandeur of the sea, the proud traditions of the MV Explorer, and the joy of learning about the world and its peoples through travel and exploration of unfamiliar cultures and places. You can listen to a computer-generated version of "MV Explorer" here.

"We are so pleased and surprised by this grand march in honor of the 100th Semester at Sea voyage," said Les McCabe, president of the Institute for Shipboard Education. "We will treasure this composition, and look forward to sharing it with those who are aboard the ship as it commemorates this significant milestone in our program's history."

Semester at Sea began taking students to points around the globe in 1963, when it was known as the University of the Seven Seas. Since then, the program and its successors have introduced more than 50,000 students to the cultures and peoples of the world. Students earn college credit and learn from faculty and visiting dignitaries, such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, while docking at ports around the world. U.Va. became the academic sponsor of Semester at Sea in 2006.

The 100th voyage embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia in August. Its final docking is scheduled for Dec. 14 in San Diego.

— By Jane Kelly