First Fridays Rewind: A Collaborative Student Showcase

The Final Five brass quintet performs at the first First Fridays concert on September 6, 2019. (Kristen Chavez/UNC College)

Arts Everywhere and the Department of Music were thrilled to collaborate and present First Fridays, a new concert series that began this fall semester. This pop-up music series featured performances by different student chamber ensembles on the first Friday of each month in the rotunda of Hill Hall. Beginning at 12:15 pm, each concert lasted between 15-30 minutes.

These informal concerts allowed students, faculty, staff, and community members to come and go as they listened to live music and snacked on refreshments. The idea was to highlight a variety of different styles of music. This semester included a brass quintet, an early Baroque ensemble, a bluegrass band, and a choir.

UNC Consort of Viols, directed by Brent Wissick on October 4, 2019 (Crystal Wu/Arts Everywhere)

This concert series was perhaps not your typical concert experience. The informality of the concert gave listeners a chance to move around, eat refreshments, or talk quietly amongst themselves. Some concert-goers sat on the floor. Others sat on the steps. Others meandered through the space, pausing to listen as they headed to their destination. For those who have never been to a recital or concert at the music department, they were given a glimpse of the hard work and the talent that lives within the music department – a small sampling of what the music department has to offer. 

“I’ve been to each one this semester and as a staff member working in a so-not-artistic area, I can say it’s been lots of fun to escape for some music and a reminder of all the wonderful talent at Carolina,” said Elizabeth Cheek Rives, Public Records Specialist at the UNC Public Records Office.

Members of the Carolina Bluegrass Band
Members of the Carolina Bluegrass Band perform at the November 1st First Fridays concert. (Crystal Wu/Arts Everywhere)

Our hope with this series has been to provide a new type of concert experience that would introduce a new crowd to the talented students in the department.

Senior vocalist Abigail Lloyd said,

“The First Fridays concerts were a great way to make the variety of music studied and performed in our department accessible to both the broader public and to my fellow musicians. I was able to pass through on the way to class and listen to Professor Wissick outline details of a viol consort ensemble. Or finish a homework assignment while hearing a student expound on the significance of a bluegrass tune to the genre at large. Additionally, I had the privilege to perform in the final Friday concert of the semester with my choir. To be a part of singing holiday tunes while students, community members, and faculty roamed in and out of the rotunda was so sweet!”

Carolina Choir and UNC Chamber Singers
Carolina Choir and UNC Chamber Singers perform holiday songs in the Hill Hall atrium on December 6, 2019, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The sentiment echoed all semester long was one of joy and gratitude towards the series. Creative interruptions on a Friday afternoon seems to be something that many on campus were craving.

In the spring, the goal is to take the series to other locations across campus so others have the opportunity to experience this creative interruption in their own space. But first, we’ll kick off the semester in the rotunda with the tenors and basses of the UNC Glee Club on January 10!


Written by Crystal Wu and Cat Zachary. 

To learn more about the UNC Department of Music and for a complete listing of their concerts, visit