• ARTS FIRST Festival: April 27–30, 2017

    Four days of art, music, fun & community!

ARTS FIRST is Harvard's annual showcase of student and faculty creativity. Produced by the Office for the Arts, with support from the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, the festival is a public event with many free performances and activities for Harvard and community members of all ages. 

Highlights from Last Year’s Festival

Frank Gehry GSD '57, ArD '00
Frank Gehry GSD '57, ArD '00. PHOTO: Dbox
Frank Gehry GSD '57, ArD '00, is the first architect to receive the Harvard Arts Medal 
Thursday, April 28, 4 pm
He received the Arts Medal from President Drew Gilpin Faust in a ceremony on April 28, 2016, moderated by John Lithgow ’67 ArD ‘05, Master of the Arts at Harvard.
Farkas Hall

Watch the Harvard Arts Medal Ceremony honoring Frank Gehry GSD '57, ArD ’00 recorded Thursday, April 28 at Farkas Hall (event starts at 21:40).


On the Plaza

ARTS FIRST comes alive at Harvard’s popular gathering place! 


Harvard Jazz Band, ARTS FIRST 2015
Harvard Jazz Band, ARTS FIRST 2015. PHOTO: Jake Belcher.
5:30-7 pm: Jazz on the Plaza, featuring Yosvany Terry with Tia Fuller
The ARTS FIRST weekend kicked off with a free concert under the Plaza tent. New Director of Jazz Ensembles, Yosvany Terry, a Grammy-nominated saxophonist/composer, made his ARTS FIRST debut leading the Harvard Jazz Band. Tia Fuller, saxophonist and Berklee faculty member, was the guest artist.



Harvard Ballroom Dance Team11 am: Stravinsky's Petrushka performed by Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra
A puppet’s progress: Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra (HRO) led by Maestro Federico Cortese performed the score from Michel Fokine’s celebrated 1910 ballet.

12 pm: Ballroom Gets Bold with Harvard Ballroom Dance Team and Orpheus Ensemble
Move over, Fred and Ginger—waltz, tango, salsa! And more! Harvard Ballroom Dance Team hit the floor accompanied by the student musicians of the Orpheus Ensemble (Gabe Fox-Peck ‘19, piano/melodica; Philip Golub ‘16, piano/ melodica; Sumire Hirotsuru ‘16, violin; Carlos Snaider ‘17, electric guitar; and others).

12:30 pm: Welcome from John Lithgow '67, ArD '05

South Asian Dance Company, ARTS FIRST 2015
South Asian Dance Company, ARTS FIRST 2015. PHOTO: Robin Barnard.
Global Arts on the Plaza

1-3 pm: Global Voices
The universal language of music is shared through performances featuring mariachi, Indonesian music, American spirituals and musical theater works.

3-5 pm: DanceFest
From breakdancing to bhangra, capoeira to contemporary, Korean hip hop to tap, Bollywood and beyond: a celebration of more than 20 dance traditions from around the world.


Left: Parker Quartet; right: Silk Road Ensemble
Left: Parker Quartet; right: Silk Road Ensemble
11 am-1 pm: Silk Road Ensemble & Parker Quartet
A dynamic musical double feature! Two of Harvard‘s resident professional ensembles performed under the tent: the grooves, melodies and percussive power of the eclectic and dynamic Silk Road Ensemble; the energetic, compelling interpretations of varied repertoire—from classical to romantic to new music—by the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet, currently the Music Department Blodgett Distinguished Artists-in-Residence. 

Nostalgics rock the Plaza Stage, ARTS FIRST 2013
Nostalgics rock the Plaza Stage, ARTS FIRST 2013. PHOTO: Jake Belcher.
3-5 pm: Battle of the Bands

Roll over, Beethoven, and rock the Plaza! Performances by Harvard’s best bands were judged by an expert panel of campus music aficionados, as well as the audience. The winning group: Shitzu Jujitzu!


Past Festivals

Check out the coverage of the 2015 festival in the Harvard Gazette and Harvard Crimson.