ARTS FIRST: Musical marvels

by Patrick Lauppe

For musicians and "musiciees," ARTS FIRST, Harvard's annual celebration of student artists, offers plenty to faint over. Here are some of the more interesting sonorous selections that will take place during the Performance Fair, Saturday, April 27. ARTS FIRST, which is (mostly) free and open to the public, starts Thursday, April 25 and runs through Sunday, April 28 at venues throughout the Harvard campus.

  • For Shiya Wang ’13, wine is an artistic medium, a painting in tastes. For her performance A Taste of Sound, she puts wine in concert with another, more conventional art: classical music. "If someone is very familiar with wine but doesn’t know that much about music," she says, "this gives them a way to understand music through wine, or vice versa." Wang is no newcomer to either medium; she studied piano at Juilliard for four years before coming to Harvard and is the founder of the Harvard College Wine Society. Though she will not actually serve wine to accompany Chopin, Liszt and Paganini, her detailed tasting notes of piece-appropriate wines will encourage further tasting and listening. 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27 , Holden Chapel.

  • A combination of acrobatics and live music, The Ethereals are bound to wow. This group consists of Nico Maffey ’13, a trained circus performer, and a band he has put together for the occasion, consisting of violinist Kathy Ran ’13, guitarist Kelly Robinson ’13, vocalist Patrick Wicker ’13 and drummer Corey Rosenberg ’13. One of those implausibly gifted undergraduates, Maffey will be performing a hand balancing routine to the song Lovesong, originally performed by The Cure but recently re-popularized by Adele. Maffey characterizes his relationship with the band behind him as some form of full-body conducting: "We’re basically working together, because if I speed up or slow down, they have to follow me." The two-way interaction that results should be quite the balancing act, indeed. 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27 , Main Dining Hall, Dudley House.

  • Two masters of modernism collide in Studies of Berg and Beckett, a performance by Keir GoGwilt ’13 and Benjamin Woo ‘13. GoGwilt has always found the composer Alban Berg and the dramatist Samuel Beckett to be uniquely united among modernists. "Beckett has a side of him that’s retrospective," he says. "Berg is exactly the same way. He’s caught between the modernists and his more romantic tendencies." This often translates into quotations from past masters in the context of brave, new works: Berg quotes Bach in his Violin Concerto; Beckett quotes Schubert’s song Nacht und Träume in his television play of the same name. GoGwilt has chosen Schubert’s piece as a compositional starting point, recomposing it "as Beckett would have." This will serve as the first piece of the performance. Additionally, GoGwilt and Woo will perform two of Berg’s Seven Early Songs, transcribed for violin. Musical curiosity, scholarship and adventurousness combine in a peculiar modern mix. 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27, Sanders Theatre.