10 Days of Art at Harvard

by Brenna McDuffie '15

November is one of the busiest months at Harvard. As we reach the half-way mark of the semester, students are more active than ever between midterms, Freshman Parents Weekend, the upcoming Harvard-Yale Game, and, for many, a nearly round-the-clock involvement in the arts. The Harvard arts calendar attests to the blitz of arts events in the coming weeks. The sheer volume and diversity of presentations and performances in even the first 10 days of November is astounding. You could easily find yourself sprinting from one event to the next.

"I think art has many roles to play here at Harvard, so part of what I hope will be exciting for the community during this time will be catching snippets of the ways art on campus serves different purposes, represents different communities and speaks to the highest artistic aspirations, as well as the importance of creative self-expression," says Jack Megan, director of the Office of the Arts.

Given the volume of activities this month, I'm making a list of personal stops. Here’s my map of the next 10 days of arts at Harvard. But of course, don’t limit yourself to my picks. You can find a full list of the variety of events here. Truly, there is something for everyone

Day One. Friday Nov. 1

Antigonick. This fall, HRDC has brought Ianthe Demos, the artistic director of One Year Lease, to lead undergraduates in Anne Carson’s poetic translation of Sophocles Antigone. Antigonick, which closes Nov. 2, has been called an aesthetically stunning experience by audience members. As a classics geek and feminist, I have a certain fondness for the story of Antigone, so I can’t wait to see this team’s modern interpretation of this oft-told tale. Read an interview with Demos here.

Day Two. Saturday Nov. 2

HRO PRESENTS: MOZART, DVORAK, ADÉS. I always enjoy classical music, especially when Mozart is on the program. But what makes The Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra’s second concert of the year extra special is a solo performance of a Dvorak violin concerto featuring Stella Chen ’15, winner of this year’s James Yannatos Concerto Competition. Read an interview with Chen here.

Day Three. Sunday Nov. 3

HFA’s CHRIS MARKER FILM SERIES. If you haven’t had the chance to visit the Harvard Film Archive, be sure to catch this month’s series. The Archive is featuring the work of French writer and filmmaker Chris Marker, best known for his experimentation with various technologies and forms of film to explore the the muse of memory. Marker contributed to the world of cinema for half a century before passing in 2012, and his films will show at the HFA until December 16.

Day Four. Monday Nov. 4

LEARNING FROM PERFORMERS: SIMON SINGH. Sponsored by the OFA's Learning From Performers program, Mathematician/author Simon Singh will discuss his latest book The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. According to Singh, the beloved TV series has so many mathematical references that it drip-feeds number theory to its viewers. I can’t consider math one of my strong suits, but exploring mathematics through this famous comedy could be a fascinating journey. Read an interview with Singh here.

Day Five. Tuesday Nov. 5

GAMELAN SESSIONS. Did you know Harvard's Music Department has a traditional Indonesian music ensemble? This week, the Harvard Campus and Community Gamelan ensemble opens its weekly rehearsal at the SOCH to new members, or anyone just interested in checking out this unique instrumental group. As a South Asian Studies concentrator and Quad dweller, I’ll surely stop by.

Day Six. Wednesday Nov. 6

DAY OFF. Rest up for the weekend, study for exams, curl up with a cup of tea and an episode of your latest TV addiction. Wednesday is a quiet night for the arts at Harvard.

Day Seven. Thursday Nov. 7

SEESAW: Opening Thursday at the Harvard Dance Center, SEESAW is the collaborative creation of dance program director Jill Johnson and her student dancers, who have used improvisational dance and crowd-sourcing to develop this piece. The program is aptly named: Audience members will be asked to move around the venue throughout the performance to view the dance from various perspectives. The result is that each member of the audience will leave having had a unique, individualized experience. Read more about past dance events here.

Day Eight. Friday Nov. 8

VISITING ARTIST WORKSHOP: HELEN OTTERSON. I’ve been dying to walk across the river to Harvard’s brand new Ceramics Studio on Western Ave., and this event provides the perfect opportunity. Artist Helen Otterson will be giving a presentation on her works of sculpture, which combine ceramics and glass casting. Otterson's sculptures are inspired by succulent plants of the dry California landscape. Helen’s lecture will be followed by a demonstration of glass casting.

Day Nine. Saturday Nov. 9

IGNITING INNOVATION SUMMIT. Harvard's Social Innovation Collaborative will hold their annual conference on social entrepreneurship from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday in the Northwest Building. The day is jam packed with key note speakers, TED talks, discussion panels, and skill-development workshops. For students emerging from college into a world in which social entrepreneurship and culture are joining forces to sustain and support the arts, this conference could be an invaluable learning opportunity.

Day Ten. Sunday Nov. 10

The Pirates of Penzance. I end this 10-day stretch with a bit of slapstick, musical comedy. Whether you’re a Gilbert and Sullivan aficionado, a musical lover or just looking for a laugh, make your way to the Agassiz Theatre to see the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players’ rendition of the dynamic duo’s most famed work.

And one final note: This is a 10-day map. But the arts don't stop with 10 events or in 10 days. They are ongoing. Make the Harvard Arts Calendar of Events your go-to place for arts news, and sign up for the OFA e-newsletter The Beat, which delivers arts highlights to your inbox each week.