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Your guide to all things arts during Family Weekend

Family Weekend will be hosted on Grounds beginning Oct. 22, wrapping up Oct. 24

<p>Students and their families can head to Old Cabell Hall at 8 p.m. on Friday evening to hear several University ensembles, including University Singers, and a cappella groups sing their hearts out.</p>

Students and their families can head to Old Cabell Hall at 8 p.m. on Friday evening to hear several University ensembles, including University Singers, and a cappella groups sing their hearts out.

Following its cancellation last fall due to COVID-19, Family Weekend will be hosted on Grounds beginning Oct. 22 and wrapping up Oct. 24. Academic events, information sessions and sports games galore are scheduled to take place over the course of the three-day family affair. The program promises to celebrate students’ academic, athletic and artistic accomplishments at the University. Free performances and tours occurring throughout the day and late into the evening Friday and Saturday will showcase talent in the departments of art, drama, music and more.

The arts-related Family Weekend festivities kick off Oct. 22 with an open house at the Fralin Museum of Art beginning at 5 p.m., followed at 6 p.m. by a guided tour of the permanent and featured exhibitions led by student docents.

“There’s a really cool exhibition called Skyscraper Gothic that will be on view,” said Emily Lazaro, the Fralin Museum manager of docent and teaching programs. “That exhibition actually started as a U.Va. class that Kevin Murphy and Lisa Reilly taught.”

Former University professor Kevin Murphy and architectural historian Lisa Reilly curated the Skyscraper Gothic exhibition, which features prints, paintings and textiles to show how skyscraper Gothic design became an emblem of modern American life.  

Students and their families can then head to Old Cabell Hall at 8 p.m. to hear several University ensembles and a cappella groups sing their hearts out. U.Va. University Singers, U.Va. Chamber Singers, Virginia Glee Club and Virginia Women’s Chorus will be among the musically gifted groups performing until 9:30 p.m., rounding off the evening.

“It’s a really good opportunity to bring families together to see the arts atmosphere on Grounds,” said Hannah Brockhausen, third-year Batten student and publicity co-chair of University Singers. “I think people don’t necessarily always view U.Va. as this really big arts school, but we have such amazing artistic groups.” 

The ensemble plans to sing “Let My Love Be Heard” by Jake Runestad, an emotional piece that encapsulates the excitement of finally performing live again.

“Our group in particular is planning to perform a song we were originally going to perform at our 45th anniversary concert, which ended up being canceled as a result of COVID,” said Mary Katherine McCullough, fourth-year Batten and College student and president of the Virginia Women’s Chorus. 

Called “May It Be,” the song testifies to the a cappella group’s perseverance through the pandemic to finally sing in-person and together again.    

Saturday, Oct. 23 will open with some laughs courtesy The Whethermen, an improv comedy group at the University. Their performance will start at 12:30 p.m. and run until 1:30 p.m. in the Newcomb Hall Theater.

“Our shows are really just a light-hearted, fun event, a great place to just relax, have some laughs and spend time with your friends and family and catch a funny show,” said Jack Wiler, fourth-year Engineering student and president of The Whethermen. 

As an improv comedy, material is made up on the spot. Thus, audience interaction is key to any performance by The Whethermen — members of the troupe are always seeking inspiration from the audience for ideas to incorporate into their scenes. 

For those who can’t make it on Friday, the Fralin Museum is hosting a Saturday gallery tour led by student docents, set to begin at 2 p.m. Oct. 23.

“Docent-led tours aren’t about dumping information on people,” Lazaro said. “They’re more about having experiences with works of art.” 

Museum teaching allows people to feel with one another — there’s ample opportunity for people to share their observations, ideas and connections, as well as listen to the perspectives of others. Head over to a docent-led tour of The Fralin Museum to spend some much needed quality time with your family.

Another exciting evening of music is in store on Saturday. The Virginia Gentlemen, the oldest a cappella group at the University, will belt out tunes from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Old Cabell Hall Auditorium.

“We’re so ready and so excited to take all the precautions necessary, but also invite people to gather back in Old Cabell Hall to start recreating and re-energizing these traditions that we’ve always had,” said Heath Yancey, fourth-year College student and president of the Virginia Gentlemen.

The Family Weekend concert is a tradition specific to the a cappella group. They intentionally curate the setlist to include some songs that will be fun for students and others that will entertain parents in hopes of creating a space for people of all ages to gather and have a good time.    

To top the night off, a drag show will launch at 8 p.m. and finish at 11 p.m. Students and families can swing by the Newcomb Hall Theater for a performance that’s sure to entertain. The University’s chapter of oSTEM, a national LGBTQ+ affirming organization for individuals in STEM, is hosting the event.

For the full schedule of Family Weekend events, visit the Orientation & New Student Programs website.