And well it should be, as it’s dedicated to UVI's 50th anniversary. The Thursday evening audience alternated between audible gasps and thunderous applause as their favorite artists were announced.
Responses ranged from "Amazing" and "Just incredible" to, as one local put it succinctly, "Heartical," that is to say filled with heart.
The evening, presented by the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, included an open bar and a lavish spread featuring a monumental eight-foot-wide dish of paella.
UVI President David Hall said the Golden Jubilee committee had come up with a unique idea to honor the occasion. "As part of Reichhold's tribute to UVI, they asked previous UVI presidents Orville Kean and Laverne Ragster to select a favorite performer from their tenures."
A beaming Denise Humphrey, interim Reichhold acting director, said, "Dedicating our season to UVI's 50th anniversary is our contribution to what will no doubt be a major event for the entire community."
Though the 2011-12 lineup is bursting with talent—from the Zouk powerhouse band Kassav to the Dance Theater of Harlem—the season’s high-water mark will likely be five -time Grammy Award winner India.Arie, whose announcement received huge cheers and applause.
Hall said she got his vote, and that of his daughter, Sakile Brathwaite-Hall, who is coming home from Spelman College in Atlanta just to see her.
A local highlight is the UVI Alumni Choir in Concert: A Tribute to UVI Past Presidents. Members of the choir will travel from the Caribbean and the U.S. to form the special tribute on March 3, 2012.
The 2011-12 season lineup includes:
Angelina Ballerina: The Musical
Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 – 6 p.m.
This whimsical musical is based on the popular PBS show “Angelina Ballerina,” as well as the popular children's book series. Watch as Angelina and friends try to impress a school visitor with various forms of dance, from hip-hop to modern dance and, of course, ballet.
Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 – 8 p.m.
Get ready for a big dance party featuring Caribbean powerhouse band Kassav. From massive crowds at Paris' Zenith concert hall to the intimate spaces of New York City nightclubs, Kassav has been mesmerizing audiences for three decades.
Spyro Gyra (President's pick – Orville Kean)
Saturday, Nov. 12 - 8 p.m.
With more than 25 albums released and 10 million copies sold, Spyro Gyra is one of the most commercially successful groups in jazz.
Dion Parson & The 21st Century Band in a Tribute to Stanley and The 10 Sleepless Knights
featuring Eddie Russell and the St. Croix Quelbe Ambassadors
Saturday, Nov. 26 - 8 p.m.
This special presentation from the V.I. Lottery features a range of stellar performers, including saxophonist Ron Blake, trumpeter Rashawn Ross, bassist Reuben Rogers, and steel pannist Victor Provost. Jazz musician Eddie Russell will also be performing. St. Croix's youth band, Quelbe Ambassadors showcase their talent.
Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 – 8 p.m.
Get ready for old school choreography and a mound of hits from the Commodores. Known for tunes: "Just To Be Close to You," "Easy Like Sunday Morning," "Brickhouse," and "Three Times A Lady," to name a few. The Commodores reigned as one of the top bands at Motown Records.
Angelique Kidjo (President's pick – LaVerne Ragster)
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 – 8 p.m.
Angelique Kidjo is one of the greatest forces in world music, with 11 albums to her name. A native of Benin, Kidjo's music is steeped in tribal and pop rhythms of her West African heritage. Her earthy voice spans musical boundaries, blending funk, salsa, jazz, rumba, makossa and souk.
UVI Alumni Choir in Concert: A Tribute to Past Presidents
Saturday, March 3, 2012 – 8 p.m.
Members of the UVI Alumni community join together for a spirited tribute to past presidents Arthur Richards and Lawrence Wanlass, who charted the path for the then-College of the Virgin Islands. Alumni will travel from around the Caribbean and U.S. for this special tribute.
India. Arie (President' pick - David Hall)
Saturday, March 17, 2012 –8 p.m.
India.Arie is a five-time Grammy Award winner with over 3.3 million records sold. Arie, known for her signature neo-soul sound, burst into the music scene in 2001 with her hit song, "Video." Since then, she has wooed fans with other big hits like “I Am Not My Hair,” and “Brown Skin.” Her most recent album, "Open Door", features a collaboration with Israeli superstar Idan Raichel.
Dance Theater of Harlem
Saturday, May 19, 2012 – 8 p.m.
Founded by Arthur Mitchell, Dance Theatre of Harlem is the first black classical ballet company in the United States. The company’s graceful and vigorous routines have taken the dancers around the globe repeatedly.
The season's sponsors include: International Capital and Management Co., V. I. Lottery, First Bank, V.I. Waste Management Authority, Innovative Communication Corp., VI Council on the Arts, Marriott Frenchman's Reef Hotel, and the V.I. Department of Education.
Season subscription packages will be available between Sept. 1 and 15. Starting Sept. 15, tickets to individual shows will be available. Call the Reichhold box office 693-1559, or at www.reichholdcenter.com.