ARTS FIRST ’14 Celebrates Harvard’s Creative Community

March 18th, 2014 No comments

Harvard University’s 22nd annual ARTS FIRST festival, showcasing student and faculty creativity, will take place Thursday-Sunday, May 1-4, 2014. Sponsored by Harvard’s Board of Overseers and produced by the Office for the Arts at Harvard with partners across the University, this year’s festival will feature more than 200 music, theater, dance, film, visual arts and multidisciplinary events at indoor and outdoor venues. All events are open to the public, most free of charge.


Author Margaret Atwood  (Jean Malek photo)

The festival’s signature Performance Fair will take place on Saturday, May 3, from 1 pm to 5 pm, featuring more than 100 free public performances and presentations at a dozen venues in and around Harvard Yard, including the Plaza located between the Science Center and the north side of Harvard Yard. Kicking off the Performance Fair from 11 am-1 pm will be performances on the Plaza by the Harvard Jazz Bands and the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra, the latter performing Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring conducted by Maestro Federico Cortese.

ARTS FIRST 2014 will include other special events, all free and open to the public:

— The Harvard Arts Medal ceremony honoring author, poet and environmental activist Margaret Atwood AM ‘62, featuring a conversation with Atwood moderated by actor John Lithgow ’67 and presentation of the Arts Medal by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust on Thursday, May 1, at 4 pm at Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St. Tickets are required (free and limited to two per person), available in person, on the phone or online through the Harvard Box Office at 1350 Massachusetts Ave., 617.496.2222, beginning Tuesday, April 22 for Harvard affiliates with valid ID, and Thursday, April 24 for the public (phone and online orders are subject to service fees).

Jazz musician/composer Vijay Iyer (Jimmy Katz photo)

Jazz musician/composer Vijay Iyer (Jimmy Katz photo)

— The Vijay Iyer Sextet in a concert of exuberant jazz on Sunday, May 4 at 2 pm on the Plaza. Iyer, recently appointed as a professor in Harvard’s Department of Music, has been hailed by The New Yorker as one of “today’s most important pianists.”

DanceFest on the Plaza, showcasing the extraordinary versatility of Harvard’s 27 student dance groups—ballet, modern, pan-African, hip hop, ballroom, and more—on Saturday, May 3, 1-5 pm.

Make Art, seven locations at the festival that invite visitors to participate in various creative endeavors, including ceramics, henna tattoos, theater games and music, “mini-orchestra” conducting, dance, acting Shakespeare, and a “Food for Thought Exchange,” Saturday, May 3.

— Special programming at the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture—including the Peabody Museum, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Harvard Semitic Museum and the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments—Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3.

LITFest @ Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a pre-festival event celebrating Harvard’s literary community with readings, workshops and panel discussions featuring internationally acclaimed authors and editors, Tuesday, April 29- Thursday, May 1.

Other ARTS FIRST highlights include the Harvard Student Art Show and Sale; the musicals The Drowsy Chaperone, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and the original Freshman Musical; student-written plays including Fault, Symmertry Breaking and Daisy; screenings of film and video works by students of the Visual and Environmental Studies Department; performances by the Harvard Radcliffe Modern Dance Company, the Sunken Garden Children’s Theater, Kuumba Singers of Harvard College and the Immediate Gratification Players improv troupe; and much more.

All Performance Fair events and most ARTS FIRST events are handicapped accessible. For more information, contact the Office for the Arts at Harvard at 617.495.8676, or visit the website. Download the ARTS FIRST app via the website, and on iTunes.

Margaret Atwood to be honored at Harvard

January 17th, 2014 1 comment

Author, poet and environmental activist Margaret Atwood AM ’62 is the recipient of the 2014 Harvard Arts Medal, which will be awarded by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust at a ceremony on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 4 pm in Sanders Theatre, Cambridge. The ceremony, presented by the Office for the Arts at Harvard and the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, will include a discussion with Atwood moderated by actor John Lithgow ‘67, host of the event. This is the official opening event for ARTS FIRST, Harvard University’s annual festival showcasing student creativity in the arts.

Author Margaret Atwood AM ’62 (photo: Jean Malek)

Admission is free but tickets are required, available in person at the Harvard Box Office at Holyoke Center, 1350 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, or by calling 617.496.2222 (phone and online ticket orders are subject to service fees). Ticket distribution for Harvard affiliates (2 per person, with valid ID) begins Tuesday, April 22; ticket distribution for the public (2 per person) begins Thursday, April 24. Some remaining tickets may be available at the door one hour prior to event start time.

The Harvard Arts Medal honors a distinguished Harvard or Radcliffe graduate or faculty member who has achieved excellence in the arts and has made a contribution through the arts to education or the public good. Previous Medal recipients include photographer Susan Meiselas EdM ’71; visual artist and essayist Catherine Lord ‘70; saxophonist/composers Joshua Redman ’91 and Fred Ho ’79; composer John Adams ’69 MA ’72; playwright Christopher Durang ’71; poets John Ashbery ’49 and Maxine Kumin ’41; cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76; film director Mira Nair ’79; conductor and founder of Les Arts Florissants William Christie ’66; stage director Peter Sellars ’80; composer John Harbison ’60; National Theatre of the Deaf founder David Hays ’52; author John Updike ’54; songwriter/musicians Bonnie Raitt ’72 and Pete Seeger ’40; and actors Jack Lemmon ’47, Tommy Lee Jones ’69 and Matt Damon ‘92.

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her newest novel, MaddAddam (2013) is the follow-up to The Year of the Flood (2009) and her Giller Prize winner, Oryx and Crake (2009). Other recent publications include The Door, a volume of poetry (2007), Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008) and In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011). Additional titles include the 2000 Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Penelopiad.

Learning From Performers: 2013-14

August 27th, 2013 No comments

Learning From Performers, the Office for the Arts at Harvard’s visiting artist program, gives students the opportunity to stretch their creative muscles and enhance their Harvard education through master classes, workshops, lecture-demonstrations, informal talks and other educational forums with professional artists in all disciplines. Here’s a preview of what’s in store for 2013-2014:

Sandesh V. Kadur is a wildlife photographer and documentary filmmaker; Kamaljit S. Bawa is a Distinguished Professor of Biology at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, interested in biodiversity and global change. At a multimedia presentation on October 1, they will discuss their new book, Himalaya: Mountains of Life, and the connections between art and the humanities in building awareness and potential solutions to global environmental challenges.

Pianist Yuja Wang

Hailed by the New York Times for her “speed, flexibility, pianistic thunder and interpretive nuance,” on October 18 pianist and Deutsche Grammophon recording artist Yuja Wang will discuss and answer questions about her career, from her studies at Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing to her swift ascent performing recitals and concerts with the world’s major orchestras.

The social, cultural and musical contexts of the Celtic harp will be explored—and demonstrated—during a talk on October 23 delivered by Helen Lawlor, a lecturer in Irish music and ethnomusicology at Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dublin. Lawlor has performed and taught traditional Irish harping at numerous international music festivals including the Interceltic Festival, Lorrient and The Gaelic Roots festival in Boston.

Who knew that “The Simpsons” drip-feeds morsels of number theory into the minds of its viewers, practically forming the basis of an entire university math course? On November 4, Simon Singh, author of the bestsellers Fermat’s Enigma, The Code Book, and The Big Bang will discuss The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, his latest book exploring mathematical insights into the most successful animated show in television history.

Author Simon Singh (photo by Bill Green)

In November, trumpeter Eddie Henderson joins the Harvard Jazz Bands to participate in “The Musical Worlds of Herbie Hancock,” a year-long tribute to the pianist/composer who will deliver the Norton Lectures next spring. Henderson, a member of Hancock’s trailblazing Mwandishi sextet in the 1960s, will discuss his career during a public conversation and perform in a concert with the Harvard Jazz Bands.

Trumpeter Eddie Henderson

In December, director, writer and actor Lonny Price, who originated the role of “Charley Kringas” in Stephen Sondheim’s 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along, will conduct a master class for student performers and attend a rehearsal of Sondheim’s Company, which opens at Farkas Hall on December 4 directed by Rose Bailey ‘14 and music directed by Ethan Addicott ‘14. In 2011, Price directed the acclaimed New York Philharmonic concert production of Company starring Neil Patrick Harris.

Other artists will be announced; for up-to-date information, visit the Learning From Performers online calendar. Learning From Performers posts announcements in the OFA’s weekly email arts digest, “The Beat,” as well as calendar listings in the Harvard Gazette. For more information, call 617.495.8676.

OFA Dance Program announces fall ’13 courses, performances

August 27th, 2013 1 comment

The Office for the Arts Dance Program, located at the Harvard Dance Center at 60 Garden St., will hit the ground running this fall with two new for-credit courses and an impressive assortment of co-curricular courses with new and returning instructors. The Emerging Choreographers Residency continues in its second year and many master classes will be featured throughout the semester. Performances begin in November. Registration for classes in ballet, contemporary, and conditioning begins on September 10.

New courses for credit this fall:

The Harvard Dance Project is a new faculty-led performance company which offers students the opportunity to be original cast members and collaborators in multiple dance works created by professional choreographers, including a new installation by OFA Dance Program Director Jill Johnson. Performances are in November, 2013. Move and Be Moved will be taught by Graduate School of Education Arts in Education graduate Lauren Simpson ’11. Other fall courses for credit: Music 105r: Fundamentals of Improvisation and Composition, taught by Jill Johnson.

Irineo Cabreros ’13 in Andrea Miller’s Newton’s Cradle. PHOTO: Eric Antoniou

In the Emerging Choreographers Residency students are encouraged to apply for a semester-long immersive choreographic mentorship with professional choreographers including long-time Mikhail Baryshnikov collaborator Aszure Barton, Jill Johnson and recent Living History awardee, Francesca Harper. Application deadline is September 6.

This Fall will feature master classes from Kyle Abrahams, Aszure Barton, Francesca Harper, and Ariel Friedman.

Fall dance performances:

October 18-19: Student-led group Dance Center residency, Pan African Dance and Music Ensemble
November 7-9: Dance Program Winter Performances 2013
November 14-15: Emerging Choreographers Showing/Performance, Harvard Dance Center

Visit the Dance Program website for details about the fall term dance rally, which will include pizza, dancing, and announcement of Dance Program offerings for 2013-14.

Musicals highlight fall ’13 theater

August 27th, 2013 1 comment

Musicals take center stage for Harvard undergraduate theater this fall.

Farkas Hall, 10-12 Holyoke St., which is managed by the Office for the Arts at Harvard.

Farkas Hall will see three musical productions: Little Women, a musical by Allan Knee (book), Mindi Dickstein (lyrics), and Jason Howland (music), directed by Ally Kiley ‘15, music directed by Cynthia Meng ’15 (vocals) and Isaac Alter ’16 (instrumental), October 31-November 9; Gatsby, a new dance production presented by the Harvard Ballet Company and directed by Michelle Luo ’14 and Bridget Scanlon ‘15, November 15-16; and Company, Stephen Sondheim’s musical comedy directed by Rose Bailey ‘14 and music directed by Ethan Addicott ‘14, December 4-8.

At Agassiz Theatre, the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players stage their very popular production of The Pirates of Penzance, October 31-November 10. The music continues in other Agassiz shows including a residency by Mariachi Vertas de Harvard, November 14-15, and Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell, libretto by Nahum Tate, directed by Giselle Ty and music directed by Jess Rucinski ‘14, in early December.

This year’s Visiting Director’s Project is Antigonick, directed by Ianthe Demos, co-founder of One Year Lease Theater Company; performances are in mid-October.

These productions are just a portion of the many undergraduate fall shows, including those presented by the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club and independently produced shows in student houses and other venues.

For a complete schedule, visit our Events Calendar. For tickets, visit or call 617.496.2222; for more information, contact Farkas Hall Production Coordinator Dana Knox,, 617.495.8727.

If you are interested in performing this semester, don’t miss HRDC’s Common Casting Info Session (5-6 pm) and Pizza Q&A (6-7 pm) on Monday, September 2. Common Casting auditions will be held Tuesday-Friday, September 3-6.