5 Free Things to do at Duke in April 2024

From nature experiences, to celebrations of jazz legends, to carillon concerts, here’s what you can enjoy this month

A collage of photos

The Ciompi Quartet, left, will perform with special guest Min Xiao-Fen. Images courtesy of the Duke Department of Music.

April 7 – Ciompi Quartet with Min Xiao-Fen

At 4 p.m. Sunday, April 7, Duke’s Ciompi Quartet will be joined by special guest Min Xiao-Fen on the Baldwin Auditorium stage. Classically trained in China, Min is an acclaimed vocalist, composer and player of the pipa, a four-stringed lute-like instrument popular in China.

The performance, which will be livestreamed, will feature three selections composed specifically for string quartets and the pipa.

Visitors encounter wildlife at the Nasher Family Day. Photo courtesy of the Nasher Museum of Art.

April 14 – Nasher Family Day

The Nasher Museum of Art’s monthly Family Day will give visitors a chance to celebrate Earth Day through art. Guests can make their own art with recycled materials supplied by the Scrap Exchange. They can also find inspiration by interacting with live animals from the Piedmont Wildlife Center and meet artists who express themselves by using unconventional materials.

The event runs from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. and is open to the public.

Mary Lou Williams shared her love of music with Duke students. Photo courtesy of Duke University Archives.

April 14 – Our First Lady of Jazz: Celebrating Mary Lou Williams 

As an acclaimed pianist and a composer, Mary Lou Williams collaborated with jazz icons like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis and left an indelible musical legacy. She also left her mark at Duke, where she was an artist-in-residence from 1977 until her death in 1981. The Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture continues her legacy on campus today.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at Duke University Chapel, there will be a celebration of Williams and her music. As part of Duke’s Centennial celebration, the Duke Chapel Choir, the North Carolina Central Vocal Jazz Ensemble and several guest artists will play Williams’ music and other works that inspired her.

A night earlier, on at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13, the Duke Wind Symphony will debut Williams final unfinished work in a free performance at Baldwin Auditorium.

Volunteers get their hands dirty at Duke Campus Farm's Community Work Days. Photo: Duke Campus Farm.

April 26 – Duke Campus Farm Community Work Day

From  1-4 p.m. on Friday, April 26, the Duke Campus Farm will hold a community work day where volunteers can work alongside the farm’s student crew and get a hands-on feel for sustainable agriculture. All are welcome, though advance registration to the event is encouraged.

Later that Friday, from 4:30-5:30 p.m., the Duke Campus Farm will hold a Land and Listen event allowing visitors to enjoy a short piece of environmental poetry and soak in some quiet time on the one-acre farm located in Duke Forest.

Another fun Duke Campus Farm Event taking place in April is the Spring Contra Dance from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, April 12. The event will feature food, dancing and live fiddle music. Head here for more information on the event.

Hear the music of Duke Chapel's 50 bells on April 28. Photo courtesy of University Marketing & Communications.

April 28 – Duke Chapel Carillon Recital

Grab a blanket and head to Abele Quad for a rare opportunity to hear a concert featuring Duke University Chapel’s bells. The performance, which runs from 5-6 p.m. Sunday, April 28, is part of the J. Samuel Hammond Carillon Recital Series. It features Michigan State University carillonneur Jonathan Lehrer playing Duke’s 50-bell carillon.

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