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Get Into That ARTS FIRST Youthful Spirit!

March 8th, 2013 31 comments

Harvard South Asian Dance Company performs at ARTS FIRST 2012

According to Shakespeare, “April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” That spirit embodies the urge to try the new, to celebrate the creative energy in all of us. In short, it’s ARTS FIRST, Harvard’s annual festival featuring over 200 film, dance, theater, music, visual art, literary and multimedia presentations in various venues across campus. And this year, the festival will inaugurate Harvard’s newest public space, the renovated Science Center Plaza, a project of the University’s Common Spaces initiative.

Running Thursday, April 25 through Sunday, April 28, ARTS FIRST kicks off with a ceremony honoring actor, screenwriter and producer Matt Damon ’92 as recipient of this year’s Harvard Arts Medal (see cover story). One or more of Damon’s films will be screened during the festival, and other highlights include a cookout on the Science Center Plaza with performances by Harvard’s best bands on Friday;  the signature Performance Fair, on the plaza and around Harvard Yard, on Saturday; the Dance Festival, performed this year on the plaza, also on Saturday; and throughout the weekend, events and exhibitions presented by Harvard’s student arts organizations, arts institutions and residential houses.

ARTS FIRST encourages students and community members to join the team as volunteer producers, stage managers, production assistants, greeters, and other helpers. For information about volunteer opportunities, contact Associate Project Manager Moira Pirsch,, 617.495.8699. For general information about festival programming, see the ARTS FIRST guide and online listings for event schedules at


Wynton Marsalis Revisits ‘Meanings in American Music’

March 8th, 2013 1 comment

Wynton Marsalis

On another jazz note, Wynton Marsalis, the trumpeter/composer and founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center, returns to Harvard for the fourth in his series of “Hidden in Plain View: Meanings in American Music” lecture-performances presented by the Office of the President in cooperation with the Office of the Provost, Office for the Arts, Department of Music, Office of the Dean for the Arts and Humanities and Harvard Public Affairs and Communications.

“At the Speed of Instinct: Choosing Together to Play and Stay Together” features Marsalis with a quartet—Marcus Roberts, piano; Ali Jackson, drums; Carlos Henriquez, bass; Walter Blanding, tenor sax—on Wednesday, April 17 at 7 pm in Sanders Theatre. Free tickets for Harvard affiliates are available beginning Tuesday, April 9, and for the public beginning Thursday, April 11, through the Harvard Box Office, 617.496.2222 (TTY 617.495.1642),

Jazz: Redman’s ‘Singular Sound’ to Resonate in April Concert

March 8th, 2013 1 comment

top: Joshua Redman '91, photo by Jacob Belcher; bottom, l-r: Don Braden '85, photo by R. Andrew Lepley; Tom Everett, photo by Eric Antoniou.

At the ceremony honoring saxophonist/composer Joshua Redman ‘91 as recipient of the 2008 Harvard Arts Medal, President Drew Gilpin Faust noted, “There’s a very distinct Josh Redman sound, which is fluidly melodic and yet intensely rhythmic; at times funky, deeply soulful, bluesy; sometimes fusing elements of pop and jazz, and always insistent. It’s music that pulls a listener in to a deeply quiet place and at times makes you want to move: a singular and powerful sound which has established Josh as one of the foremost jazz artists of his generation.” Redman will share that sound—and his methods for achieving it—when he returns to his alma mater as an artist-in-residence for the OFA Jazz Program, co-sponsored by the Harvard Jazz Bands.

Tom Everett, who retired this year after serving Harvard University as Director of Bands forover four decades, will be the guest of honor at this concert featuring the Harvard Jazz Bands and two of Everett’s most notable protégés, saxophonist/composers Joshua Redman ‘91 and Don Braden ‘85. Other guest instrumentalists for the concert include Aaron Goldberg ’96, piano; Ron Mahdi, bass; and Yoron Israel, drums.

Saturday, April 13, 8 pm: “Play It Forward: Celebrating Tom Everett,” concert featuring the Harvard Jazz Bands with special guest Joshua Redman ’91 and Monday Band guest conductor Don Braden ‘85; Mark Olson, Director, Sunday Band. Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St. Tickets $15, students and seniors $8, through the Harvard Box Office, 617.496.2222,

Learning From Performers: Visiting Artists Share Their Craft

March 8th, 2013 49 comments

Storyteller Xanthe Gresham. Photo by Mishko Papic.

In January, the OFA’s visiting artist program hosted a master class with Tony Award-winning actor/vocalist Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens, 42nd Street), co-sponsored by the Celebrity Series of Boston.

Other prominent female vocalists for the spring term include the Grammy Award-winning African American a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, who participated in the Festival of Women’s Choruses co-sponsored by the Radcliffe Choral Society and Department of Music on February 14-15; and the legendary Barbara Cook (The Music Man, Candide), who will lead a master class with undergraduate singers on Thursday, April 4 at 7 pm in Paine Hall (free tickets are available through the Harvard Box Office beginning Tuesday, March 26).

British performer/storyteller Xanthe Gresham conducted a storytelling workshop March 5-6, co-sponsored by Harvard Art Museums and Arts @ 29 Garden; and saxophonist/composer Joshua Redman ’91 will be in residence during the week of April 8 for the OFA’s annual spring jazz residency.

For more information about these and other visiting artists, contact Program Manager Thomas Lee,, 617.495.8676 or visit the Learning from Performers website.

Theatricals, Musicals in the Spotlight

March 8th, 2013 8 comments

After the Hasty Pudding Theatricals finishes a month-long run on March 10 of its 165th production—this year called There’s Something About Maui—and packs up for New York and Bermuda, Farkas Hall plays host to the OFA Dance Program’s Spring Performances, March 28-30; the Harvard Ballet Company’s Spring Production, April 5-7; and the Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen musical Dreamgirls, presented by Harvard’s BlackC.A.S.T., April 25-May 5.

In Agassiz Theatre, an immersive arts experience of student stories entitled Yes, or No? will be presented by the Office for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, February 21-23; the Harvard South Asian Association’s annual dance and music showcase Ghungroo returns February 28-March 10; the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players take a journey to Utopia, Limited, March 20-April 7; the annual yet-to-be titled Freshman Musical takes place April 11-21; and Hyperion Shakespeare Company presents Henry V, April 25-May 4.

These productions are just a portion of the many undergraduate spring shows, including those presented by the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club on the Loeb Drama Center’s mainstage and Ex Theater, and independently produced shows in student houses and other venues. For a complete schedule, click here. For tickets, visit or call 617.496.2222; for more information, contact Production Coordinator for College Theatre Dana Knox,, 617.495.8727.