Read the 2019 ARTS FIRST Festival Guide online.
Find your way around the festival with the official Harvard map.
Each ARTS FIRST festival is unique but every year combines the exuberance of Harvard students, faculty and affiliates who are passionate about the many art forms presented in four rousing days of performances, exhibitions and art-making opportunities. See visual art and opera, dance styles from around the world, many music genres, stand-up and improv comedy, theater, public art, poetry, experimental performances and so much more. We look forward to sharing our Harvard community with you during ARTS FIRST on May 2-5, 2019.
All ages! All arts! All are welcome!
Highlights from ARTS FIRST 2019
The festival kicked off Thursday, May 2, 4-5:30 p.m. at Agassiz Theatre with the Harvard Arts Medal ceremony. The 2019 Arts Medal recipient is poet and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith '94. Find out more here.
On Friday, May 3, 5:30-7 p.m. in the Science Center Plaza Tent, Harvard Jazz Bands presented Jazz on the Plaza, with band leaders Yosvany Terry and Mark Olson, plus special guest artist Don Braden '85. Find out more here. Join the Facebook event here. Also on Friday, 8 p.m. in Sanders Theatre, students from Radcliffe Choral Society, Harvard Glee Club and Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum performed Sea Symphony: A Celebration of Walt Whitman.
The festival ramped up Saturday, May 4, 12:30-1 p.m. on the Plaza with the always cheerful Harvard University Band for the official opening of the Performance Fair. The ARTS FIRST Performance Fair featured comedy, a cappella, dance, music of all kinds, drama and more. Performances run nonstop 1-5 p.m. and showcase the talent and creativity of Harvard students, faculty and staff. DanceFest, a celebration of dance traditions from around the world, took over the Plaza tent 3-5 p.m. This is a perennial favorite for the youngest arts lovers at the festival.
Make Art stations on Saturday offered the opportunity for you to be an artist and take your creation home with you. Run by students and staff on the Plaza, visitors tried their hand at ceramics, figure drawing, crafts and more.
On Sunday, May 5, 11 a.m. at the Smith Campus Center, members of Silkroad Ensemble, Parker Quartet and the Brattle Street Chamber Players of Harvard College shared the stage for a combination of chamber music styles and sounds. Find out more here.
Singer Ali Sethi '06, who specializes in Indo-Muslim classical and folk genres, took the stage for a concert May 5, 7 p.m. at Sanders Theatre. He was joined in conversation with his mentor Ali Asani '77, professor of Indo-Muslim Religion and Cultures at Harvard and onstage with Grammy Award-winning musician Noah Georgeson and a live band. Find more information here.
A special pre-festival concert featuring world-class pianist Angela Hewitt, presented by the Harvard Department of Music, took place Tuesday, April 30, 8 p.m. at Paine Hall. The OFA Learning from Performers program also presented an open-to-the public workshop with Harvard students on Wednesday, May 1. Find out more here.
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.