New Virginians

The New Virginians

The New Virginians was a musical group from Virginia Tech founded in 1972. Its founder and first director was Stan Kingma, who had directed the Virginia Tech Glee Club, later called the Showmen, which was the nucleus of choral music singing at Virginia Tech. The group featured 24 singer/dancers, a 12 piece showband and a technical staff and focused on a musical variety show which toured Virginia and surrounding States as "musical ambassadors of Virginia Tech" in shows hosted by civic groups, conventioneers, and sometimes the university itself. The group was known on campus for it's annual "Homeshow" which was presented each spring and Christmas show during the holiday which benefited a local charity.

During those 21 years, the group produced 17 albums and performed a cross country summer tour sponsored by Georgia Pacific in the late 1970s which concluded with an appearance on the Dinah Shore Show. Georgia Pacific president and former Virginia Tech president T. Marshall Hahn was instrumental in arranging the tour. Stan Kingma, who directed the group for it's first 6 years, and most of the original New Virginians staff and originators (Stan Kingma and Christopher "Kit" Bond) left the program at the end of the 1978 season. After a year of inactivity, the University restarted the program in 1979 under the direction of John Howell where it continued until the end of the 1993 spring semester. Founding member Associate Professor of Music Emeritus Paul Breske led the showband until his death in 1992.

The group was reorganized in 1994 a 12 member Jazz Choir under the direction of Lisanne Lyons. The new group also disbanded the showband replacing it a quartet of student musicians on guitar, piano, bass and drums, and then with only prerecorded musical accompaniment. The group continued in the Jazz Choir format for 10 years, winning the Downbeat Award two years in a row for the most outstanding jazz choir in the United States. In 2004, Virginia Tech lost both its vocal and instrumental jazz professors to budget cuts bringing a close the history of groups under the New Virginians name.

In July 2007, over 100 Alumni from the Kingma years came together in Richmond, Va for a reunion celebrating the 35th anniversary of the founding of the group. Alumni stepped back into the tasks they performed so many times as students as technicans set the stage, and singers and band members performed for the community.

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