Skip to main content

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-19 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!

Charanga Carolina performs in the rotunda, viewed from above.
Charanga Carolina performs on November 5, 2021 in the Hill Hall rotunda. (Kayden Hunt/DTH)

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.

Watch Charanga Carolina’s recorded First Fridays performance on Instagram.

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.

Watch the UNC Chamber Singers’ recorded First Fridays performance on Instagram.

Spring 2022: Ukuleles, Bluegrass, & 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.

Watch the Carolina Ukulele Ensemble’s recorded First Fridays performance on Instagram.

Carolina Bluegrass Band
The Carolina Bluegrass Band performs on the steps of Hill Hall in March 2022. (Jess Abel/College of Arts and Sciences)

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 IBMA’s annual World of Bluegrass festival.

Watch the Carolina Bluegrass Band’s recorded First Fridays performance on Instagram.

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 2021-2022 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 in 2021-2022!

The 21-22 First Fridays team stand together smiling on the steps of Hill Hall.
The team behind this year’s First Fridays concert series (L-R): Cat Zachary (‘10), Crystal Wu (‘13), Erin Wadsworth (‘22), Nuria Shin (‘23) (Jess Abel/College of Arts and Sciences).