Thousands Celebrate the Arts

Overseer Lithgow Organizes Arts First Weekend at Harvard

Thousands of artists and spectators gathered this weekend for "Arts First: A Harvard-Radcliffe Celebration," an unprecedented event honoring student art and encouraging art appreciation at Harvard.

Eighty-five student performances and events, a film festival and 16 exhibitions took place across the campus Friday, Saturday and yesterday.

The celebration was kicked off by a concert presented by fourteen campus music groups in Sanders Theatre Friday night.

"I think it was probably the most amazing concert of its kind at Harvard," said actor John Lithgow '67 in a phone interview Saturday. Lithgow, a member of Harvard's Board of Overseers, introduced the event.

A host of campus luminaries attended Friday's concert, including President Neil L. Rudenstine, Provost Jerry R. Green, Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 and Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III.


Sponsored by the Harvard Board of Overseers' Committee on the Arts, the festival was proposed by Lithgow, the committee's chair, who said he was inspired by the emphasis on the arts at Rudenstine's inauguration.

Lithgow, who called the festival a demonstration of the artistic nature of the "Rudenstine Era," said he originally proposed a more formal event in the style of the Commencement Week suppers. But when Rudenstine and Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles cut the presented budget for the festival in half, he said, he was "forced to think much more creatively."

"Dumping the original idea was a blessing in disguise," said Lithgow. "Now it has become much wider and has even spread to the houses."

The houses were full of activities all weekend, as were libraries, museums and courtyards across campus. Human sculpture, string quartet performances, drawing lessons, art shows and experimental theater performances were only a few of the many events that colored the warm, sunny weekend.

Tracey E. Tomlinson '94 and Kelli Rae Patton '94 read selections from their poetry on Saturday and said they received a good response to their performance.

Another Arts First performer, Robert F. Chiu '94, played violin with the Salem Quartet at the Fogg Art Museum. Chiu said he "felt like [he] was contributing to the community."

The grand finale of the weekend was a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Symphony Hall in Boston Sunday night with four student groups: the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, the Radcliffe Choral Society, the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum and the Harvard Glee Club.

"The whole thing was just tremendously heartening," said Lithgow, who noted that when he was an undergraduate the only comparable event was a kite-flying contest along the Charles River.

Lithgow said he conceived of Arts First as an annual occurrence, although so far "we only have dreams and fantasies for next year.

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