Activities at the Summer School

Harvard Summer School offers a rich array of free films, concerts, dances, social gatherings, lectures, and athletic events. In addition to campus activities, the Boston area is filled with many opportunities for enjoyment.


There are many ways to remain active around campus: work out at Harvard gyms, participate in a tennis tournament or swim meet, or join Weld Boathouse and row on the Charles River. Learn more about the athletic facilities and resources.


Students may participate in a variety of musical opportunities, including the Summer School pops band, chorus, and orchestra. Watch a video about the various musical opportunities offered during the summer.

Harvard Summer Pops Band

The band, led by Harvard University Band Interim Director Mark Olson, is open without audition to all brass, woodwind, and percussion players from both Harvard and the Greater Boston area, regardless of age or experience. No audition necessary. Interested wind, brass, and percussion players are advised to come to the first rehearsal with instrument and, if possible, a folding music stand.

Rehearsals are Wednesdays from 7:15 to 9:30 pm in Sanders Theatre. There will be two concerts, (tentatively scheduled): one in Harvard Yard on the Memorial Church steps, Thursday, July 23 at 4 pm, and one at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade, Sunday, July 26, at 3 pm.

If you think you'd like to join the band this summer, please register. For questions or more information, please call (617) 496-BAND (2263), see the Harvard Summer Pops Band website, or e-mail

Harvard Summer Chorus

The chorus, founded in 1936, is led by Andrew Clark, Harvard University’s Director of Choral Activities. The ensemble is open by audition to Harvard Summer School students and Greater Boston community singers. The Summer Chorus performs masterworks each year with a professional orchestra and soloists in Sanders Theatre. This summer, the chorus will present Esther, an oratorio by G.F. Handel. 

Auditions for community members will be held in Holden Chapel from 6 to 9 pm on Monday, May 11; 6 to 9 pm on Wednesday, May 13;  and from 2 to 5 pm on Sunday, May 17. Community members who cannot make an audition time in May can audition in Holden Chapel from 6 to 9 pm on Sunday, June 21, or e-mail to set up an appointment.

Auditions for summer school students will be held in Holden Chapel from 1 to 4 pm on Saturday, June 20; 1 to 4 pm and 6 to 9 pm on Sunday, June 21; and from 5 to 9 pm on Monday, June 22.

Final decisions on acceptance into the chorus will be made for all singers after the conclusion of auditions on Monday, June 22, and will be announced shortly thereafter via e-mail.

Rehearsals are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 to 10pm, in Sanders Theatre, starting Tuesday, June 23. The culminating Sanders Theatre performance is tentatively scheduled for Friday, July 31, at 8 pm. Visit the Harvard Summer Chorus Facebook page or e-mail for more information.

Harvard Summer School Orchestra

The Harvard Summer School Orchestra is currently in its thirtieth season under the direction of Judith Zuckerman. Orchestral musicians of all ages are invited to audition. A Harvard affiliation is not required, and there is no fee for participation but participating musicians must be available for the entire Summer School term. The orchestra comprises approximately 60 players and performs works from the classical repertoire. 

This summer, we are delighted to welcome back one of our favorite violin soloists, Jodi Hagen, joined by violist Holly Barnes, to play Mozart’s sparkling Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra. The program will also include Schubert’s Symphony No. 3. Other works may include Sibelius's Karelia Suite and Nielsen's Saga Drøm.

The orchestra forms anew each summer and therefore has openings for all orchestral instruments. Returning players must re-audition.

Harvard does not provide instruments on loan. Musicians are responsible for bringing their own instrument (with the exception of piano and large percussion). Those who may be coming to Cambridge for the summer and cannot bring their own instruments when they travel may be able to rent an instrument from an area music store.

Auditions will be held on a first-come, first-served basis (no appointments) Tuesday, June 23, to Thursday, June 25, 5 to 9 pm in Memorial Hall, room 038. Audition requirements: one prepared piece (auditionee’s choice—anything you love to play and feel you play very well without accompaniment) and sight-reading excerpts from our planned program. The whole audition lasts no more than eight minutes. If your chosen prepared piece is long, please select a short section or sections that you feel best display your musicianship. It is not necessary to memorize your audition piece.

Rehearsals are Mondays from 6:30 to 9 pm in Sanders Theatre, June 29 to July 27. There is a dress rehearsal as well.

The performance will take place at 8 pm in Sanders Theater on Saturday, August 1.

For more information, please contact Judy Zuckerman at

Summer Servers

Summer Servers contacts area nonprofits to determine the number of volunteers needed at the organizations throughout the summer weeks. This collaboration provides opportunities for Summer School students to give back to the local community through time spent on activities like sorting food at the Greater Boston Food Bank, serving a hot meal at a soup kitchen, or helping to set up an arts and food festival.

Students sign up for volunteer expeditions with Summer Servers at the Activities Fair on Opening Weekend. Trips are scheduled throughout the summer, mainly on Saturdays.


Harvard Summer School students can contribute to the Harvard Summer Review, a literary journal published once a year.

The Summer School hosts a number of readings from popular and local authors, including Harvard faculty, around Harvard Square. In the past there have been readings by Paul Harding, author of the novel Tinkers; Tom Perrotta, author of the novel Little Children; and Christina Thompson, author of Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story.

Around Boston

In addition to Harvard libraries and museums, the city of Boston, across the Charles River, has many cultural, historic, and scientific institutions to explore. Dance, music, and theater also flourish. The Boston Pops Orchestra gives free concerts each summer on the Esplanade along the Charles River, and there are a number of parks and trails in the city.

Sponsored trips beyond Boston

The Summer School also sponsors trips to Cape Cod; the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island; the beaches and shopping centers in Maine; and Tanglewood in western Massachusetts—the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Information and schedules for these trips are available at the Activities Fair on Opening Weekend. You can sign up for these activities at the fair or in the Activities Office throughout the summer.