1812 Overture

Tchaikovsky’s 1812 as you’ve never heard it before ...

"Last-minute Orchestra"

A long tradition at Lowell House, and now in conjunction with Arts First weekend at Harvard, this "pick-up" performance of the 1812 Overture in the Lowell House Courtyard has been open to the whole community and drawn many eager fans over the years. It involves a corps of student and affiliate musicians from Lowell House and a host of stalwart volunteers interested in participating in one of the most brazen, fun and Olympian interpretations of this famous piece ever heard in Cambridge. Key players are Science Center technicians who diligently recreate cannon fire explosions (a central motif for the 1812) by torching (at the conductor’s cue) sets of helium-inflated balloons; the Klappermeisters (student bell-ringers of Lowell House) who ring our famous Russian bells to dramatic perfection throughout; and the stoic Conductor who shepherds this teeming, racing chariot of a performance across the finish line and to great artistic victory.

The energy shared by the variegated participants in this open-air extravaganza is palpable: it draws many people in from Mount Auburn Street and has become a picnic favorite for many neighborhood people. It also serves as a showcase for our unusual set of bells. This tradition is unique to Lowell House and therefore to Harvard University. It provides a comfortable, shady, musically resplendent respite for the Arts First masses.

NB: While we are under renovation, the 1812 Overture is taking place in different venues on campus.  It was in the Leverett Towers Courtyard in spring of 2018; we expect to host it in Harvard Yard during the spring of 2019.