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ARTS YEAR IN REVIEW

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

A is for Arts First. Once again John Lithgow '67 and a gaggle of Harvard arts fat cats took over the campus, performing at every possible stage every half-hour. Despite inclement weather, the spring festival lightened a gloomy Harvard reading period.

B is for Bonnie Raitt '72. This Grammy-winning country and blues singer had plenty to talk about when she came to campus in May to accept the fifth-annual Harvard Arts First Medal. "I just cannot believe that a rock 'n' rollin', blues singing, rowdy-mouthed political activist would be standing up here at Harvard," she told the crowd.

C is for "Cantata 2000." This year, the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC) found a new song with the help of the accomplished director and composer Elizabeth Swados. "Cantata 2000"--composed, adapted and directed by Swados--was performed this spring on the Loeb Mainstage. The second professional director to work on a major undergraduate production as part of the Harvard-Radcliffe Visiting Director Project, Swados helped transform the stage into an off-Broadway production.

D is for the Dancing Deviant. Denied funding by the Office for the Arts, yet determined to express his talents during Arts First weekend, Marc R. Talusan '97 did his originally-conceived dance-monologue piece in the Kronauer Space. Well-received, the show pushed boundaries without becoming gimmicky or losing its flair and provided a welcome wakeup call to the lazy days of conventional spring theater.

E is for Eulenspiegel. Never heard of it? Neither did we, but his merry pranks, rendered by Richard Strauss, had people voting with their concert ticket purchases. Huzzah! The Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra has done it again!

F is for fences. Not just the play, but the ones between director of the Loeb Drama Center and professor of English Robert Brustein and playwright August Wilson, whose conflict over color-blind casting and the theater was played out on a national stage.

G is for Galaxie 500 (Harvard Bands, Part One). This year, three Harvard alumni re-released their Sterling Morrison-influenced pop albums from the late '80s. Headed by New Zealand's Dean Wareham (now of the band Luna), Galiacie 500's Rykodisc release included the debut Today, On Fire and This is Our Music.

H is for Hyperion. This freshman-seminar-turned-theater-company, headed by Sam Speedie '99, showed up the HRDC with two outstanding, blockbuster productions: in the fall, "Measure for Measure" and in the spring, "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

I is for Ibsen. The American Repatory Theater production of "The Wild Duck" was the yummy cake under the overrated icing to this year's strong season. Other fine performances included "Man and Superman," "Woyzeck" and "The King's Stag."

J is for jazz. Fred Ho '79, Don Braden '85, Illinois Jacquet and Dwayne 'Cook' Broadnax celebrated the Harvard Jazz Band's 25th anniversary to the delight of a roomful of cats. Tom Everett, director of bands, was honored at various points in the concert for his 25-year dedication to the Jazz Band.

K is for kitsch. Sorry, guys: the Oscars; masters of recycling over at the Gardner, Botticelli for the first time all in one room; Herb Ritts; "Cantata 2000" (well, you either loved it or hated it).

L is for Leigh, Mike. Director. "Secrets and Lies." Improvised performances, stunning cinematography, robbed at the Oscars. Dig it.

M is for the Museum of Fine Arts. This year the esteemed institution ditched Winslow Homer and went pop. The season opened with the potpourri contemporary art show, "Face and Figure," a conglomeration of New England artists and world-renowned avant-garde figures. Souls were sold for a Herb Ritts exhibit and Roy Lichtenstein offered his take on Chinese landscape painting.

N is for Not Currently Showing at Harvard: free speech--a student film society; a humor magazine; more dance.

O is for opera. This spring Dunster House offered a splendid performance of "Tales of Hoffmann." Some quite fine thespians and a refreshingly superb orchestra, coupled with the often ribald and vaudvillean tone of Jacques Offenbach's opera, provided a high caliber and rollicking fun performance.

P is for Push Kings (Harvard Bands, Part Two). This spring, four Harvard guys released their first LP of fresh and invigorating pop. The brothers Moore-Gerety and two friends top Boston and beyond, bringing perk and melody to the local music scene.

Q is for Quincy Jones. On the eve of his daughter's graduation, Quincy Jones will take the stage as the Class Day speaker. A superstar producer and arranger, the winner of 26 Grammy nominations, Jones may finally be a speaker worth listening to.

R is for "Rumors." Call it the Never-Ending Party, or the Anniversary from Hell. The HRDC's rendition was a quintessential team effort, and fortunately one that worked brilliantly.

S is for squash courts. A partition and lots of love were all it took to transform the Adams House squash courts into a full-fledged Harvard gallery. For all the hype over the Advocate art show, the highlight was the independent effort by Eric Bennet (aka Jimmy Pistole) '97. Also, Jace Clayton '98 offered a multimedia show on Ellison's Invisible Man last fall featuring electronic music and video installations.

T is for T.S. Eliot '09. Not only did he go to Harvard, but this year was kicked off with a rocking rendition of "The Hollow Men," entitled "The Hollowmen," performed by Erik Amblad '98.

U is for "Grand Utopia," the result of a partnership between the Harvard Film Archive (HFA) and the Busch-Reisinger. Silent films from the Soviet Union and posters from the October Revolution to the first Three-Year-Plan.

V is for "Vertigo." Re-released on video, a reincarnated Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart really rocked the house--and the belltower -- in Hitchcock's celluloid delight.

W is for Werner Herzog. The director of "Woyzeck" spoke at the HFA this winter.

X is for Loeb Ex. With on-fire performances of Brecht's "Baal," August Wilson's "Fences" and Terrance McNally's "Frankie and Johhny," the small theater space was the site of free treats this year for the Harvard community.

Y is for Year -- Man of and Woman of, that is. The Hasty Pudding roped off Holyoke Street and had a fete-cum-parade for Julia Roberts and Mel "Life is a Shit Sandwich" Gibson. Roberts, who pulled her acceptance speech out of her sock, quipped, "I could have put it worse places."

Z is for "Zentropa." You are on a train in Germany...

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