Parker Quartet and Brattle Street Chamber Players perform on stage.

Silkroad artists, the Parker Quartet, and the Brattle Street Chamber Players of Harvard College teamed up for a bold and borderless concert featuring more than a dozen musicians at Arts First at Harvard Commons, Smith Campus Center.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Step, sing, and dance in time

The Harvard community celebrates the arts in all its forms

6 min read

The gray clouds blanketing campus this past weekend didn’t stop members of the Harvard community from coming out to join in the Arts First festivities.

CityStep dancers and The Harvard Undergraduate Drummers (THUD) gathered an enthusiastic crowd during kickoff at Science Center Plaza Saturday morning, inviting audience members to show off their moves.

Co-Executive Director of Harvard’s CityStep chapter Disha Trivedi ’19 said she joined the group in her first year with no dance experience.

“People from all different arts groups come to give their artistic talent,” she said of the organization. “These people just really care about giving their art.”

Vismaya Kharkar ’21, also joined in her first year after being involved in dance during high school.

“Dance was a big way I learned to get confident with my own body,” she said. “I love working with kids [and] instilling that confidence and self-love in middle schoolers.”

U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith ’94, recipient of the 2019 Harvard Arts Medal, responds to a student’s question at Agassiz Theatre.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Tracy K. Smith seated on stage.

University President Larry Bacow and his wife, Adele Fleet Bacow, president of Community Partners Consultants in Brookline, performed a dramatic reading of the poem “Casey at the Bat”— complete with Bacow wearing a baseball cap and jersey and carrying a metal slugger — accompanied by the Harvard Pops Orchestra.

“It was so much fun,” Bacow said. “It doesn’t get much better than this!”

“I was really impressed we got to perform a piece [Harvard Pops Music Director] Allen Feinstein composed,” Adele added. “We rehearsed twice through and [the orchestra] really prepared us.”

The couple said they were excited to check out students’ performances and experience their first Arts First.

Jack Megan, director of the Office for the Arts, celebrated his 18th Arts First this year. He said planning the four-day event starts by examining what worked, what could be improved, and what was missing from the previous year’s festival.

“It needs to have new dimensions,” Megan said. “If it doesn’t, we shouldn’t be doing it.”

On the other side of the river, the Western Ave. Arts Walk displayed on-the-street artwork that pedestrians may otherwise miss, including: ceramics gallery and class space Studio 224, utility boxes painted by local artists, disused newspaper dispensers that now sell posters for 25 cents, murals, and the i-labs creative spaces.

Jack Megan on stage.

Jack Megan, director of the Office for the Arts at Harvard, introduces the Harvard Pops Orchestra.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Cast of The Danube rehearses on stage.

Violist Genevieve Lefevre ’20 (in foreground) with Marvin Merritt IV ’20 (onstage from left), playing Paul Green; Ryan Kapur ’20 playing Mr. Sandor, and Eliya Smith playing his daughter, Eve Sandor. They are rehearsing “The Danube,” a love story by María Irene Fornés. The play is the spring production of Harvard’s Theater, Dance & Media Department.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Cast of The Danube rehearses on stage.
Cast of The Danube rehearses on stage.

Image 1: Eliya Smith (left) with Marvin Merritt IV ’20 during the rehearsal of “The Danube.” Image 2: Preparing for the performance of “The Danube” are Eliya Smith as Eve Sandor (from left); Carla Troconis ’19, playing the waiter (in this scene); and Marvin Merritt IV ’20, playing Paul Green.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Harvard Glee Club, Radcliffe Choral Society, and Harvard-Radclife Collegium perform.

Performing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ work inspired by Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” are 180 musicians from the Harvard Glee Club, Radcliffe Choral Society, and Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum.

Photo by María F. Sánchez

Fromm Players perform on stage.
Harvard Jazz Band performs on stage.

Image 1: The Fromm Players at Harvard reimagine the life of Josephine Baker. Directed by Peter Sellars ’81 and featuring soprano Julia Bullock, with original music by Tyshawn Sorey and texts by Claudia Rankine. With the International Contemporary Ensemble, founded by Claire Chase, senior lecturer on music. Image 2: Harvard Jazz Bands played under the Science Center Plaza tent. They were led by Yosvany Terry (on right), with guest saxophonist Don Braden ’85.

Photo by María F. Sánchez; Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

World Tea Cup tea ceremony.
World Tea Cup tea ceremony on a stage.

The Graduate School of Design’s World Tea Cup and Dudley World Music Ensemble presented a tea ceremony, infusing the art of tea making and its cultural significance in presenting to the drinker. The tea ceremony featured traditional tea from Japan, China, and India, and was accompanied by global music.

Photos by María F. Sánchez

The Covenant of Love is performed on a stage.

Pakistani pop star Ali Sethi ’06, Professor Ali Asani ’77, and Grammy-winning producer Noah Georgeson team up for the creation of “The Covenant of Love: The Poetry, Music and Spirituality of South Asian Muslim Cultures,” a lyrical and musical expression and celebration of South Asian poets.

Photo by María F. Sánchez

The Arts First tent on the Science Center Plaza.
Larry Bacow performs Casey at the Bat.

People begin to crowd the Science Center Plaza for Arts First; University President Larry Bacow performs a dramatic reading of the poem “Casey at the Bat.”

Rose Lincoln and Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographers

Harvard Marching Band performs on Science Center Plaza.

Members of the Harvard Marching band Anabelle Paulino ’21 (from left), Kristen Stawasz ’22, Joanna Tao ’19, Melissa Drake ’21, and Emma Hansen ’21, perform on Science Center Plaza for Arts First at Harvard University.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

CityStep performs.
Adele and Larry Bacow pose with students.

Jess Zhang ’21 joins other CityStep members in some high-stepping on the plaza as part of a triple-header with the Harvard Pops Orchestra and the Harvard Undergraduate Drummers (THUD). Harvard President Larry Bacow and his wife, Adele, pose with members of THUD.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Wheel Throwing booth on Science Center Plaza.

The Wheel Throwing booth was one of several Make Art tents on the Science Center Plaza.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Child presses clay into a mold.
Children draw an animal skeleton.

The Ancient Impressions booth was among the Make Art tents. Young artists Noah and Naomi Rubinson of Cambridge sketch skulls and skeletons from the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Lily Grob dyes Ruva Chigwedere's hair.
Freddie MacBruce rehearses Electra on outside stage.

Image 1: Ruva Chigwedere ’21 has her hair grayed by Lily Grob ’22 as they get ready to perform “Electra,” an outdoor staging of Sophocles’ tragic drama held on the Sever Quad. Image 2: Student Freddie MacBruce ’21 rehearses in front of one of “The Furies” on loan from artist Pablo Eduardo.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Outdoor art exhibition in Tercentenary Theatre.

“Living Form” by artist/students Nadyeli Quiroz ’20 and John D. Wagner ’19 on exhibit in Tercentenary Theatre.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Professional model Callista Womack poses for guests at the Figure Drawing station in Tercentenary Theatre.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Callista Womack poses at the Figure Drawing in Tercentenary Theatre.
Colorful shoes worn by Harvard Jazz Band guest.
Manuela Arroyave leads Arts Walk in Allston.

A colorfully dressed guest watches Harvard Jazz Bands, which played under the tent in the Science Center Plaza; Manuela Arroyave ’22 (center) guides the Western Ave. Arts Walk, discussing public art treasures of North Allston-Brighton.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

People react to 1812 Overture performance.

Under the Science Center Plaza tent, people respond to balloon “fireworks” as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is performed in the classic Harvard tradition: with kazoos.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

People reach to 1812 Overture performance.

Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is performed at Arts First.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer