ARTS FIRST at last!

by Simon de Carvalho '14

As classes come to an end and reading period provides a needed deep breath before finals period, most students will be spending the first few days of their break catching up on sleep, goofing off, procrastinating—basically just relaxing.

So, in this small down period, why not make the best of your inevitable indifference towards actual schoolwork and, instead of sleeping the days away, take in the work of some of Harvard’s most talented artists?

The annual Harvard ARTS FIRST Festival -- April 28-May 1 -- is four days of nonstop arts from every genre and medium imaginable: a cappella, films, orchestral performances, art exhibitions, workshops, poetry readings—basically art you can think of.

The ARTS FIRST website provides a full schedule of the hundreds (literally!) of individual performances happening over the period, but here’s a small sampling of some events that might strike your fancy. They’ve certainly struck mine.

Thursday, April 28

Suffocation by Confinement – Meng Chen ’13, Serena Zhang ’13, Shirley Zhou ‘13

  • What: A public art piece (and who doesn’t love those?) that claims to "[challenge] our boxed-in perspective of the world." It might be the perfect thing to open our minds right before finals period.
  • Where: Harvard Yard, all day.

"Music as Metaphor" with Wynton Marsalis

  • What: The renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis will bring his talents to Harvard for a performance and discussion as the first part of a two-year series of events with Marsalis, sponsored by the Office of the President.
  • Where: 8 p.m. Sanders Theater. Tickets are sold out but there will be a waiting line in case spots open up.

Friday, April 29

Comic Making Drop-in Workshop: Islam, the Middle East, and the Muslim World

  • What: An open workshop aimed at teaching some basic techniques in the art of graphic narratives as well as exploring the power of the medium in the context of learning about a variety of cultures.
  • Where: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, 61 Kirkland St., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (drop in anytime).

Crimsound a cappella performance

  • What: The brand new men’s contemporary a cappella group, Harvard’s only such group, will give its debut performance. Something to watch out for!
  • Where: 2 p.m. outside the Holyoke Center.

Saturday, April 30

Veritalk: A Spoken Word Showcase

  • What: Harvard’s newly founded spoken word group Speak Out Loud will show off the talented and biting wordplay of some of Harvard’s best spoken word poets.
  • Where: 2:30 p.m. Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub

"Play On" – Chris Masterson ‘14

  • What: A short film about a musically driven romance, created entirely by freshman Chris Masterson. It’s always interesting to see burgeoning filmmakers (or any artist, really) present their first major independent piece of work.
  • Where: 3: 30 p.m. Emerson Hall 105

Sunday, May 1


  • What: An all-day showcase of student bands and songwriters at Harvard, featuring genres as diverse as funk, pop, rock, bluegrass and klezmer.
  • Where: Noon-5:30 p.m. Outisde the Holyoke Center

Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture

  • What: One of the most instantly recognizable pieces of music in history, this performance promises church bells and canon fire, a perfect way to wake up any of those who slept in after their arts-packed Saturday.
  • Where:2 p.m. open rehearsal and 3 p.m. performance, Lowell House Courtyard