New Debut for Musicians at UVa’s Bicentennial

Standing before a lit-up Rotunda in front 20,000 people, the University Singers and the Charlottesville Symphony debuted composer Jefferson Todd Frazier‘s We Hold These Truths in celebration of the university’s 200th birthday.

The performance, conducted by choral director Michael Slon, featured soloists Glenn Seven Allen and Janice Chandler-Eterne, along with Thomas Jefferson impersonator Bill Barker.

Janice Chandler-Eterne performs her solo, backed by the Charlottesville Symphony and University Singers.

“I’ve actually been working on an oratorio on the life of Jefferson for around 10 years now,” said Frazier.  “When I began this journey I had not thought of the Bicentennial, but as I began […] communicating with UVA about the piece, that date became a very important one”.

Frazier, Professor Slon, and the producers of the Bicentennial collaborated on the work prior to the Bicentennial to make it more applicable to UVa. The movement dedicated to the University was completed no more than 8 months ago.

It’s the most incredible event I’ve ever experienced,” said Frazier.

“[Those who] I worked and collaborated with are absolutely the finest artists and colleagues I’ve ever worked with.  UVA and Charlottesville are lucky to have them!”

Frazier admitted that he has also begun to refer to Professor Slon as “superhuman”.

“I have not experienced this in even the most highly esteemed professional ensembles around the nation,” he stated.

“I have to give credit to [Michael Slon] for leading this culture of community and excellence.  I am in awe of this music program.”

The general hope of those who worked on We Hold These Truths is that it created a unifying effect, and that it was a reminder that it is the students who make the university the tight-knit and supportive community that it is today.

The American flag is projected onto the front of the Rotunda during the Bicentennial.

“I’m drawn to one of the lines from the piece [when] Jefferson says: ‘It is my deepest desire that the children of this University may lead our nation to fully realize the dream of America for all'”, commented Slon.

“The current UVA students are these ‘children of the University’, and in them we see an even fuller realization of what Jefferson may have initially imagined for.”

The image of an American flag was projected onto the Rotunda during the Bicentennial.

“I hope it will be a timely piece for our nation and for Charlottesville,” added Frazier.

“[Through music], the work illuminates the Declaration and the truths that we hold to be self-evident.  [Jefferson] offers a final charge for students and all Americans to work together to fully realize the dream of freedom – the dream of America – for all”.


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