Even though the Harvard Art Museums have only just opened, the Calderwood Courtyard has already served as the setting for several stellar musical performances. Students, faculty, and members of the Cambridge community brought pomp and pizzazz to the Cambridge Community Day on November 15 and the Opening Day on November 16, with original compositions, chamber music, a cappella, jazz, mariachi, and more.
“Playing for a crowd at the newly opened museums was an amazing experience,” said Sumire Hirotsuru ’16, a music major with a secondary concentration in global health and health policy. Hirotsuru gave a rousing solo violin performance of J. S. Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin No. 3 in E Major, BMV 1006: Gavotte en Rondeau during the opening day celebration. She played later that day with the Harvard Brahms Quartet and the Brattle Street Chamber Players—and she had helped the museums and the Office for the Arts recruit and coordinate many of the other groups that played over the weekend. “I was very honored to be a part of the first page in the history of the new museums,” she said.
Other musicians who took the “stage” included the a cappella groups Radcliffe Pitches and Harvard VoxJazz, both of which were a part of Cambridge Community Day’s welcoming ceremony. On the afternoon of that day, the student groups Harvard Callbacks (a cappella) and the Dvorak String Quintet entertained crowds, as did student-musician George Meyer ’15, who played fiddle.
The local RP Thompson Jazz Trio also performed with gusto during Cambridge Community Day, while lively student groups Mariachi Veritas de Harvard, Harvard Din & Tonics, and the jazz trio of Tree Palmedo, Alex Graff, and Chase Morrin played during opening day.
During the morning celebration on November 16, members of the Harvard University Band were stationed at both entrances to greet the first visitors with the celebratory sound of trumpets. In the courtyard, the performance of an original composition by Jerold S. Kayden, the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design, opened the ceremony. An all-student brass quintet and percussion ensemble from the New England Conservatory of Music played the piece, titled Inauguration Theme and Fanfare. (You can listen to the studio recording here.)
“It’s meant to suggest all the possibilities, optimism, ambitions, aspirations, and seriousness of something that opens,” said Kayden, who has spent decades composing and playing music. At the same time, elements of the piece are meant to reflect “that we’re building on the shoulders of the past—and literally, the Harvard Art Museums are doing just that.”
It was the first time that Kayden had heard a musical performance in front of an audience in the Calderwood Courtyard. “It had a very live, rich, complex feel,” he said. The courtyard is “a wonderful place for music, and to hear the piece played there was unbelievable.”