Turning Two Hundred
An evening of music and dance commemorates the University's bicentennial
By Mary Alice Casey and Joan Slattery Wall
A multimedia presentation featuring original music and dance captured the eclectic spirit of Ohio University as hundreds gathered Wednesday night in celebration of the bicentennial.
Campus and community members witnessed the University's history set to music and dance in a thought-provoking and often humorous performance by faculty, students and staff at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.
"Turning Two Hundred: A Celebration of the Bicentennial of Ohio University" was a collaboration of Professor of Music Mark Phillips and Associate Professor of Dance Lisa Ford Moulton. It highlighted an evening that also included two Founders Citation presentations and a video production reflecting the University's history. President Robert Glidden served as master of ceremonies, introducing Gov. Bob Taft, Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Chu and past and present Ohio University leaders.
"The Mark Phillips piece was profound and wonderful, and the pictures, the dancers, everything brought it to home," said Fred Toner, associate professor of modern languages. "It was really wonderful."
Dancers and musicians treated the audience to artistic interpretations of events and periods in the University's history, such as the flooding of the Hocking River, relationships between faculty and students and school spirit. Even the Bobcat mascot and members of the Marching 110 were part of the performance.
Phillips' composition incorporated music performed by several University groups as well as electronic and computer-generated pieces. The presentation also included video montages and soundtracks that focused on such themes as engaged learning, campus development and student life.
"I thought it was extraordinary. Mark Phillips just did a phenomenal job," said Barbara Hunzicker, a former co-director of the Lancaster Festival. "I think it will live long and prosper."
That was Glidden's intention when he commissioned the bicentennial piece, which featured members of OhioBrass, Ohio University Singers, Marching 110 Drumline, the Trumpet Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and Handbell Choir.
"This cast and crew is composed entirely of Ohio University faculty, staff and students, and I'm extremely proud of that fact," Glidden said.
The evening also included the presentation of Founders Citations to longtime Ohio University supporters G. Kenner Bush and Wilfred Konneker. A Founders Citation also was to have been given to Robert Mahn, the longest tenured employee in the University's history. Mahn died Feb. 1, and Glidden presented the award posthumously to his family at the funeral services.
"The 200-year history of Ohio University is a history of challenge to reach out and lead from the least populated and most isolated corner of Ohio," said Bush, former publisher of The Athens Messenger and a past member of the University's Board of Trustees.
Konneker, BS '43, MS '47 and HON '80, is a pioneer in the nuclear medicine field, former chair of The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees and a newly named national representative on the University's Board of Trustees.
"It has been the making of many lifelong, close friendships," Konneker said, "and the opportunity to see one of the very good universities become one of the outstanding public universities in this country which has made this journey so rewarding."
The reward for Jessica Burcham came simply in the opportunity to be a dancer interpreting the University's history through "Turning Two Hundred."
"It's fabulous to be part of something that is all about how it started, and I'm getting ready to end," said Burcham, who is graduating this year with a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance performance and choreography. "It was a good ending to a journey."
Mary Alice Casey is editor and Joan Slattery Wall is assistant editor of Ohio Today