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The Music Lover’s Guide to Arts First Saturday

I’ve always been a bit overwhelmed during ARTS FIRST weekend—so many performances, so little time. As a music lover, there’s a chance for me to see literally every a cappella group on campus and an array of countless impromptu cover bands. To help you (and myself) get through the weekend sanely, here’s a schedule to follow on Saturday, May 3 to ensure you see a sampling of the best music Harvard has to offer.

10 am-1 pm: Performance Fair Kickoff, The Plaza
It’s a treat to see John Lithgow ham it up as he always does for ARTS FIRST, but also be sure to catch three staple acts of the weekend: The Harvard Sunday Band (at 11), the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra (11:45), and the Harvard Marching Band (12:30). If the weather is nice (fingers-crossed), the kickoff will be a joyous, laid-back affair.


1:30 pm: The River Charles Ensemble, Sanders Theatre
One of Harvard’s youngest classical ensembles, the River Charles Ensemble made a splash last year at AF13 when they were “conducted” by Professor Gregory Mankiw on the plaza. They’ve moved to Sanders this year, and combine virtuosity with impressive unity and vision considering they play without a conductor.

2:30: Bach Cantata, Adolphus Busch Hall
AF weekend offers the opportunity for some of Harvard’s most talented artists across campus to join forces in creative ways. Here, opera star Liv Redpath ‘14 will perform some of Bach’s timeless cantatas with HRO heavyweights (Jess Rucinski ’13, Sumire Hirotsuru ’16, Taiga Abe ’17).


3:30: iiii, Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub
iiii is unsurprisingly made up of four excellent musicians, and is fronted by Laila Smith ’17. The cross-college group explores the commonalities between modern jazz and R&B. The talent of each member is readily evident, and their grooves are exuberant and unpredictable.

4:30: THUD, Sanders Theater
For an immersive and visceral finale, go check out The Harvard Undergraduate Drummers, who will no doubt provide an intriguing contrast to the statues of stately scholars that flank Sanders’ stage. These noisy rule-breakers have incorporated buckets, trash cans, glass bottles, and even the cups routine into their performances, so expect the unexpected this Saturday afternoon.

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