2009-10 OFA Flashback: Celebrating Creativity

by OFA Staff

Associate Project Manager Matt Weinberg reports on the 18th annual ARTS FIRST Festival (April 29-May 2, 2010), produced by the Office for the Arts and presented by the Board of Overseers of Harvard College.

Featuring 230-plus performances, events, and exhibitions over four days, ARTS FIRST 2010 was definitely one for the record books!

Beginning Thursday afternoon, the Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities set the pace by hosting an event entitled "Art-Making=Risk Taking," which highlighted the creation of over 20 new academic courses with a focus on hands-on art-making. And the theme of "risk-taking" continued into Thursday evening as visual artist, writer, and activist Catherine Lord ‘70 spoke with John Lithgow '67 about her expansive vision of art and was awarded the Harvard Arts Medal by President Drew Gilpin Faust.

Throughout ARTS FIRST 2010, audiences were able to catch student dramatic performances that ranged from classic drama and musicals to new student works. Theater innovator Calla Videt '09 debuted The Untitled Project in four different alternative theater spaces across campus. Meanwhile, audiences filled the Loeb Drama Center Mainstage for the Sondheim musical Into the Woods. Also on the schedule were Guys & Dolls, FAT MEN IN SKIRTS!!!?!, Pericles, Pirates of Penzance, Godspell, and a 24-hour student play festival in the tunnels of Adams House.

In music, a cappella performances were big this year, with over 15 student groups on the Holyoke Center Outdoor Stage, Harvard Yard Stage, and in venues across campus. And, as in past years, a great highlight was performances by the amazing student orchestral groups. On Saturday alone, the Performance Fair was host to 40-plus works ranging from early oratorio to opera to compositions by Beethoven, Mahler, Schubert, Bach, Purcell, Byrd, Ockeghem, Chopin, Scriabin, Britten, and Liszt. And ARTS FIRST rocked too, with performances by nearly 30 rock, jazz, and acoustic groups.

Another stand-out this year was dance. Harvard Bhangra kicked off the Saturday Performance Fair and Dance Festival with a high-flying outdoor performance in the Yard. Throughout the weekend, audiences enjoyed original choreography by the Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company, South Asian Dance Company, Harvard Ballroom, Mainly Jazz, Harvard Ballet Co., CityStep, and many more.

And, in my mind, ARTS FIRST 2010 stands out as a fun and successful collaboration with the nearly 30 student producers, coordinators, and volunteer stage managers. Because with ARTS FIRST, more than half the fun is in the making!

Arts First 2010 Slideshow of images

See also: archive, OFA Staff