Abandoning headliner, Colonials Weekend highlights student groups

Media Credit: Hatchet file photo.

After hosting a headlining performer for 13 years, the University will shine the spotlight on student groups during Colonials Weekend.

The top student affairs official said this week that the University chose not to have a headliner performance during Colonials Weekend to better showcase student talent.

This is the first time in 13 years that the weekend will not feature a big-name celebrity performance. Peter Konwerski, the dean of student affairs, said officials made the decision to show off students’ talents to visiting parents, not to reduce costs.

On Saturday, Acapellapalooza will take over as the evening headliner in Lisner Auditorium, following a GW Band performance that afternoon. Officials say this marks a clear shift toward showcasing students to the families visiting campus and provides an activity for students whose families don’t come to town.

“We feel really good that it is a student headliner, and I think you know parents and students who go see Acapellapalooza are really going to be impressed by the incredible talent,” Konwerski said.

Earlier this year, officials highlighted student organizations by moving the First Night event back to campus after it was held on the Mount Vernon Estate for two years.

In past years the audience for the Acapellapalooza event was larger than the number of seats in the Marvin Center’s grand ballroom and sometimes caused overflow into the continental ballroom, Konwerski said, so the event was held in Lisner Auditorium for the first time last year.

Musical groups won’t be the only ones who get to showcase their talents because athletic teams and other performance groups will participate in events throughout the weekend, Konwerski said.

He added that officials made the decision based on parents’ feedback that they wanted to see more of what their students did on campus.

“We often have parents say, ‘I want to come and spend more time with my student’ and the students want to showcase what they are involved with,” Konwerski said.

The move toward a more student-centered event will allow students whose families cannot come to D.C. for the weekend to spend the time supporting their friends in the performances, Konwerski said.

“For kids who do not have families coming in, they want to spend time with friends. We often encourage families to take a group of students out together, spend some time with your kids’ roommates. It is really part of a much larger family,” Konwerski said.

In the past, comedians like Seth Meyers in 2014 and bands like The Fray in 2013 have headlined the weekend. Last Colonials Weekend included two shows from Jon Stewart, and the event was so popular that ticket sales were shut down for almost a month last summer.

Luke Orphanides, the business manager for the GW Troubadours, said Acapellapalooza is an opportunity for families to watch all of GW’s a cappella groups together.

“The GW Troubadours have worked hard to organize the annual Acappellapalooza concert during parents weekend. It has always been up to the Troubs and the participating a cappella groups to raise awareness for the event, and this year we hope it will be bigger than ever,” Orphanides said.

Orphanides added that the event has grown into a successful fundraiser from the suggested donations of $5 to $10 which go towards Miriam’s Kitchen, a charity dedicated to ending chronic homelessness in D.C.

Edwina Avbuere, the co-business manager for the GW Sirens, said because there was no student group showcase during the first week of the school year, students who are new to campus have not yet heard performances from these groups.

“Headlining the Colonials Weekend performance is a great opportunity for the Sirens to do just that,” Avbuere said. “We want to use this opportunity to show freshmen, their parents and anyone in the audience just how much fun it is to be a GW Siren.”

Elizabeth Konneker contributed to reporting.

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