The Virginia Symphony Orchestra will perform at this local celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

(Southside Daily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

NORFOLK — Old Dominion University will host a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, highlighted by a concert by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO) that will feature a special composition.

The concert is one of many events that are free and open to the public at the observance, which will begin at 4 p.m. Most of the activities will be at the Kaufman Lawn or Webb University Center.

The VSO’s performance, which will be from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on Kaufman Lawn, will include “From the Earth to the Moon and Beyond.” The composition, with narration and imagery to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, was written by Indiana composer James Beckel and is being performed by a number of well-known orchestras around the country. The performance will be the Virginia debut of the composition.

ODU President John R. Broderick will provide narration for the piece.

“The moon landing stands as one of the greatest achievements in human history,” Broderick said. “We at ODU are proud to honor all of the men and women who made the Apollo mission a reality, and are pleased to provide a way for the Hampton Roads community to celebrate the accomplishment.”

Among the planetarium shows and science activities on tap for people of all ages:

  • “Capcom Go!,” a new, 30-minute full-dome documentary that showcases the achievements of the Apollo program and what it took to put the first humans on the moon.
  • Physics, chemistry, and robotics demonstrations.
  • Build and launch your own rockets.
  • Augmented- and virtual-reality presentations of the Apollo 11 mission, the moon rover and the Saturn V rocket.
  • Touch a piece of the Moon.
  • An “Apollo Passport” that will allow youths to win prizes by completing activities.
  • Telescopes (weather permitting).
  • Take a selfie wearing a real astronaut glove.
  • Face painting, balloon artists, games, bouncy houses, hamster balls, straw rockets, chemistry magic show, art activity and a children’s maker space.
  • The opportunity to enter the cross-generational “50th Anniversary Moon Landing Contest,” with a chance to win prizes and attend an awards ceremony on Aug. 24.

Trucks featuring food from Flamingo Joe’s, YNot Italian and kettle corn and local breweries O’Connor, Young Veterans, New Realm, Smartmouth and Bold Mariner will offer refreshments for a fee.

A few reminders for guests:

  • Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed.
  • Dogs are not permitted, but service animals are welcome.
  • Frisbees, coolers and outside food and beverage are not permitted.

The event will take place rain or shine. In the event of inclement weather, the symphony will be moved inside the University Theatre. Seats will be available on a first-come basis, so people are asked to RSVP here to reserve a rain ticket.

Parking will be available in the 43rd and 49th Street garages.

For more information about the scheduled events, click on this link. To volunteer to work that day, go to this site.

Gail Dodge, dean of the College of Sciences, praised the efforts of everyone involved in putting the celebration together.

“This is going to be a wonderful event, thanks to the tireless work of numerous people across the University over many months,” she said. “And having the celebration here is especially meaningful, given NASA Langley’s important role throughout the space program’s history.”

Old Dominion University has a long-standing partnership with NASA. Students and faculty have worked on commercial and NASA scientific payload projects for more than a decade. In recent years, ODU engineering research teams have participated in successful launches of suborbital sounding rockets from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore. In April, ODU along with three other universities launched their CubeSat (small satellite) projects from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, which were recently deployed into space from the International Space Station.

Notable alumni include former NASA astronaut Michael J. Bloomfield, who earned his master’s degree in engineering management from ODU in 1993. He flew on Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station in 1997, 2000 and 2002.

The event is made possible by contributions from ODU’s College of Arts and Letters, Strome College of Business, Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, Batten College of Engineering and Technology, College of Health Sciences, College of Sciences, Graduate School, Pretlow Planetarium, Alumni Association, Office of Development, Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, Office of Community Engagement, Webb University Center, Center for Educational Partnerships and Aramark. The Slover Library, Town-N-Gown and Virginia Symphony Orchestra also made contributions.

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John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.