Created in Fall 2019 by Arts Everywhere and the UNC Department of Music, First Fridays is a concert series that features pop-up performances by different student and chamber ensembles on the first Friday of each month. These informal concerts allow students, faculty, staff, and community members to come and go as they listen to live music of all genres & configurations.
Fall 2021: Return to Live Performances
After a year of virtual First Fridays concerts, we were excited to return to the Hill Hall rotunda for these musical creative interruptions. This year’s theme celebrated the sights and sounds of Carolina by showcasing a wide variety of different genres and styles of music.
The First Fridays season kicked off with the UNC Harp Ensemble, who performed live outside of Hill Hall. The UNC Harp Ensemble was one of the first groups who were canceled due to the COVID-10 Pandemic so it was nice to come full circle by opening our First Fridays season – our first live performance since March 2020 – with this group!
October featured Charanga Carolina, the only university-based Cuban Charanga ensemble in the state of North Carolina! This group of 22 musicians performed a varied program featuring works by Orquesta Aragón, Freddie Hubbard, Cal Tjader, and Ray Bryant.
In addition to our regular First Fridays performance on November 5, we were delighted to have a special First Fridays performance on November 19 which featured the premiere of Intimate Distance, a special piece commissioned by Matt Svec (‘23) and Julia Holoman (‘23). With support from Arts Everywhere’s Student Arts Innovation Grant, Intimate Distance celebrates the inherently collaborative nature of music and incorporates distance and isolation as integral components of musical performance through the retelling of the myth of Orpheus.
Finally, we were excited to close the semester with the UNC Chamber Singers who sang carols on the steps of Hill Hall. For this closing concert, we also offered special treats in the form of candy canes and UNC/holiday-themed coloring books, made by UNC alum Dara Burg and commissioned by Arts Everywhere and Carolina Performing Arts.
Spring 2022: Ukuleles, Bluegrass, and Beats
With the momentum from the Fall semester, we carried on with more performances in the spring, still taking advantage of the good weather to perform outdoors when possible.
The spring season opened with the Carolina Ukulele Ensemble. Active since 2010, they are the world’s first collegiate ukulele ensemble and are made up of students of all skill levels and backgrounds.
March brought us back outside to the steps of Hill Hall with the Carolina Bluegrass Band who performed a selection of traditional and contemporary bluegrass pieces. When they’re not performing for First Fridays, you’ll often find the group performing for packed auditoriums on campus as well as at IMBA’s annual World of Bluegrass festival.
Finally, we were excited to close the semester with the UNC Beat Lab, a community space where musicians can use a wide variety of DJ gear, electronic music tools, and digital resources to practice, create, and collaborate. Kelli Smith-Biwer, the Arts Everywhere Graduate Fellow in Music Technology, led two demonstrations so attendees could learn the mechanics behind the turntables and equipment used by DJs. After the demonstrations, people were able to play with the instruments and make their own beats!
Thank you to the performers and all the supporters who celebrated the sounds of Carolina with us this year! Until next year, stay well and stay musical, friends!