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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. Harvard offers extensive athletics facilities, including gyms with cardiovascular equipment, weight rooms, and exercise classes.

As a student you can enjoy:

  • Intramural soccer, basketball, and volleyball
  • A tennis tournament and swim meet
  • Swimming pools, basketball and volleyball courts, and weight rooms
  • Fields for soccer, softball, and touch football
  • Rowing through the Weld Boathouse on the Charles River

Visit the Harvard Athletics website or call (617) 495-3454 to learn more about 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 Director of Harvard University Band and Wind Ensemble Mark Olson, is open to all brass, woodwind, and percussion players from both Harvard and the Greater Boston area, regardless of age or experience.

Auditions are not necessary. Interested wind, brass, and percussion players are advised to come to the first rehearsal with instrument and, if possible, a folding music stand. 

Information on how to join the band, rehearsals, and concerts for summer 2019 will be posted here as soon as it is available.

For questions or more information, please call (617) 496-BAND (2263), see the Harvard Summer Pops Band website, or email

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 Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and the North American premiere of Arion and the Dolphin by British composer Jonathan Dove. 

Auditions for Summer School students will be held in Holden Chapel from 2 to 5 pm and 6 to 9 pm on Saturday, June 23; from 2 to 5 pm and 6 to 9 pm on Sunday, June 24; and from 5 to 9 pm on Monday, June 25.

Final decisions on acceptance into the chorus will be made for all singers after the conclusion of auditions on Monday, June 25, and will be announced shortly thereafter via email.

Rehearsals are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 to 9:30 pm, in Sanders Theatre, starting Tuesday, June 26.

The culminating performance is scheduled for Friday, August 3, at 8 pm, in Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall.

Visit the Harvard Summer Chorus website or email for more information.

Harvard Summer School Orchestra

The Harvard Summer School Orchestra is currently in its thirty-third 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 year, the orchestra will perform Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony, Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony, and Grøndahl's Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra featuring trombone soloist, Brian Diehl. For more information, please email

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 in Paine Hall, room PH6, from 5 to 9 pm on June 26, 27, and 28. Please note, percussion auditions will be held only on June 26 and June 27. 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.

Rehearsalare Mondays, 6:30 to 9 pm, in Sanders Theatre, starting Monday, July 2.

The performance is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, at 8 pm, in Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall. 

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. This year, author Grace Dane Mazur will read from her new book, The Garden Party on Monday, July 16 at 6:30 PM and author Rachel Kadish will read from her new book, The Weight of Ink on Wednesday, July 18 at 6:30 PM. Both events will be held at the Barker Center's Thompson Room and are free and open to the public.

The Harvard Summer Writing Program also offers a series of workshops on topics such as Writing the College Application Essay and Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism. For more information, download the full schedule of writing program workshops.

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.

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