• 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 University, the festival is a public event with many free performances and activities for Harvard and community members of all ages. 

Read the ARTS FIRST Festival guide online
View the Map of ARTS FIRST locations online

Festival Highlights: Thursday
Harvard Arts Medal Ceremony Honoring John Lithgow

actor John Lithgow ’67 ArD ‘05, Master of the Arts at Harvard
Award-winning actor John Lithgow ’67 ArD ’05 is the recipient of the 2017 Harvard Arts Medal, which will be awarded by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust at a ceremony on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 4 pm at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge. The ceremony, presented by the Office for the Arts at Harvard and the Harvard University Board of Overseers in association with the American Repertory Theater, will include a discussion with Lithgow moderated by President Faust. 

Festival Highlights: Friday
A Celebration of Harvard Artists

An extraordinary night of performances featuring an ensemble of accomplished Harvard alumni, faculty and student artists under the direction of Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus '88. Join us for an evening of dance, music, spoken word, drama and film honoring the talents cultivated at Harvard and their continuing journeys.

Festival Highlights: Saturday
On The Plaza & Performance Fair

Performing Musical Difference: Rhythms of Unity

11 AM 
Wake up the Plaza with body percussion and music of the Silk Road Ensemble, performed by students in Music 194: Performing Musical Difference. Drawing on traditional Middle Eastern rhythms, this collaboration with Professor Kay Kaufman Shelemay and Shane Shanahan, Silk Road Ensemble percussionist, transcends cultural boundaries to build a musical community.

In the Beginning... the ARTS FIRST Creation Story (sort of)

11:30 AM 
The ARTS FIRST Origin Story you never knew you wanted to know!

Dean Rakesh Khurana as the Fearless Rakeshules, Bringer of Art
Sir Dean Thomas Dingman as the Celestial Soprano of the Gods
The esteemed Gregory Mankiw, Titan
The Reverend Jonathan Walton, Narrator
Geneticist Pardis Sabeti as the Algorithmic Oracle
River Charles Ensemble | Hasty Pudding Theatricals | Harvard Ballet Company | Expressions Dance Company | Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones

In the beginning, Harvard was shrouded in darkness, sorrow and the hard sciences. The campus needed a hero. Then lo! The gods sent their muse, the fearless Rakeshules, who set out to illuminate the campus with art, creativity and transformative experiences. Come witness the ARTS FIRST Creation Story as told by some of the greatest actors of this or any generation! You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll never forget it!!

Welcome from John Lithgow ’67, ArD ’05 with Harvard University Band | 12:30 PM

A cappella at ARTS FIRST 2016Performance Fair | 1-5 PM

11 locations! Over 100 performances! All free! See the full listings page.
In & Around Harvard Yard

Make Art Stations | 1-5 PM

Join the fun. See the full listings page.
The Plaza 

Performance Fair on the Plaza

Jammin’ A Cappella | 1-3 PM: Vocal music showcase
DanceFest | 3-5 PM: A celebration of dance traditions

Festival Highlights: Sunday
Jazz on the Plaza

Yosvany Terry¡Festejemos jazz! April 30 is International Jazz Day—join us for this free concert featuring Grammy Award-nominated saxophonist/composer Yosvany Terry, Harvard’s Director of Jazz Ensembles, Senior Lecturer on Music and ”a leader among the current generation of Afro-Carribean jazz musicians in the United States” according to The New York Times. Terry conducts the student Monday Jazz Band in a program featuring compositions of such celebrated jazz masters as Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, and George Cables and showcases his Grammy-nominated quintet from New York: Yosvany Terry, alto & soprano saxophones, chekeré | Michael Rodriquez, trumpet | Osmany Paredes, piano | Yunior Terry Cabrera, bass | Ludwig Afonso, drums
Presented by the Office for the Arts at Harvard.
Plaza Tent