Student Creative Feature: Richard Annan and 411 Fridays

Grant Carter

Every Friday – at precisely 4:11 p.m. – music and revelry fill the hallways of the Commons from the open doors of Arch 411. It’s conventional enough, coming at a time in the week when many students are likely preparing to go out for the first night of the week: one might call it the ‘pregame period.’ However, what makes these sounds distinctive is what inspired them in the first place: the music in room 411 is live. The orchestrator is senior Richard Annan, who calls the weekly gathering ‘4:11 Fridays.’

What started with just a few people – his own roommate being the first performer – quickly grew into a greater phenomenon, and something unexpectedly profound for Annan himself. After that first Friday, he found more musically inclined friends to take part, and the rest was history.

“I knew I always I wanted to construct a period each week between classes and going out on the weekend,” Annan said. “It’s something fun and unique for people to do during an otherwise empty part of the week. I also just had an itch to do something creative, and for other people.”

Before 4:11 Fridays came to life last fall, Annan had other ideas as well, such as possibly hosting a radio show. However, at some point he decided to pursue a more mutual experience. First looking to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series online, Annan realized he knew a lot of people, directly and mutually, who perform music, and found a way to turn his own apartment into a venue for them.

“I knew that testing this idea out throughout the closing chapter of my Villanova career would be ideal,” Annan said. “By now, I feel I have the connections and the people to put this together, and to make it an opportunity to really host something special. So, I just went for it, and hosted the first one last August. I have always had an affinity for music, although I wouldn’t say that’s even what it’s about.”

Each session, Annan likes to open the floor to questions and comments between each set of songs. Discussion topics might range from the deeper meaning of the music to the stories of the artist or audience members themselves. 

“It can get pretty awkward, because I am often the only one to ask questions,” Annan said. “It’s my favorite part of it all, actually, because it is a conversation in the end between the music and the people listening. I feel that in music – or really anything creative – it should not be reduced to a monologue.”

Annan says his role in the sessions is no different from that of someone who is there for the first time. For him, it has grown from one ingenious idea into something far more profound.

“I really believe we each have a role to play in making it final, just like every meaningful expression in life,” Annan said. “As for the future of this all, I see a lot of beauty in knowing that it is timed and finite. Like the rest of life, people who participate should take meaning in enjoying their experience while they are there. I’m in a constant battle with time. I have never wanted to make this about me. It’s all about expression through creating a narrative.”

Although Annan has not used social media to promote sessions in the past, he is looking to do so soon as the idea hopefully grows in anticipation of graduation. The sessions are open to anybody, though they are obviously working with limited space. He claims to have had 45-50 people in there at some points. Regardless, each session is structured to be a reciprocal experience, and ultimately, what happens in Arch 411 each week is meant to celebrate much more than just music.