It won’t be the first time the venue has hosted major musical performances.
During George Foreman’s 26 years in charge of the Norton Center, the stage was graced by orchestras like the Boston Pops and Philadelphia and New York philharmonics, as well as numerous big-name popular acts, from Willie Nelson to the Beach Boys.
But Hoskins said Monday’s performance will rival any of the past events, including the 2000 vice presidential debate, in terms of the magnitude and the amount of preparation involved.
“I think it is very comparable to the debate,” Hoskins said. “What is really neat about it is that every student at Centre is involved or can be involved in this. We tell the students to dream big here and this is as big as it gets.”
The preparation for the concert and the gala dinner have been unlike anything most of the staff have been associated with.
Pains have been taken to ensure that everything from the lettering on the invitations and promotional materials to the accommodations for more than 100 musicians and support staff are perfect.
Let the hospitality begin
The Southern hospitality starts the second the guests of honor step off the plane at Bluegrass Field in Lexington on Sunday.
After the musicians arrive they will be transported in tour buses to the Kentucky Horse Park, where they will take in some of the festivities at the games before touring two horse farms and enjoying a meal of local favorites prepared completely with homegrown ingredients.
As the big night gets closer, much of the work has involved readying the Norton Center and the dining hall for the high-profile guests.
There will be Bluegrass state royalty, with Gov.Steve Beshear and former governors Martha Layne Collins, Brereton Jones and Ernie Fletcher are expected to attend, in addition to a number of dignitaries who will be guests of Alltech president Dr. Pearse Lyons.
The most anticipated arrival on the red carpet, though, will likely be Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, a former equestrian champion and president of the FEI, who accepted Hoskins' invitation to attend in December.
As with most events at the Norton Center, students are being called upon to perform many of the jobs on the night of the show, but the scale of Monday’s show has required them to play an even bigger role.
There will be 90 valets instead of the usual 12, more than 70 student greeters and a large number of runners. In all, more than 300 students will work on Monday in some capacity.
Brian Anderson, a junior from Boston, has worked at the Norton Center for three years and is now the assistant house manager. His duties during the last several months have included everything from preparing gift baskets to communicating with agents.
“It is definitely the show of my time at Centre and I know we are ready,” Anderson said. “There have been a lot of long nights now, but it we can finally see it coming to fruition.”
Steven Hoffman, who came on board as the director of the Norton Center in June, stepped into his role in the midst of the preparations.
While he is no stranger to organizing large events in his previous positions as director of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Calif., and the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science in Sioux Falls, S.D., Hoffman acknowledged that his first major show at Centre is a doozy.
For all the attention and excitement over the performance, though, Hoffman said the lasting effect on the students is even more valuable.