September 15, 2014

Cornell Kicks Off Sesquicentennial Celebration in New York City

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Cornell kicked off its sesquicentennial celebration with its first regional event in New York City this weekend.

The University hosted two receptions and shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center — a matinee show with an audience of approximately 650 and a sold-out evening event with about 1,000 attendees — according to Janessa Ciaschi, sesquicentennial and communications for Cornell Alumni Affairs and Development.

The show — titled “The Big Idea!” — included live performances from both Cornell alumni and student groups, including a subset of the Cornell Glee Club, Cornell Bhangra and the Big Red Band, according to Ciaschi.

“[The show] was a wonderful celebration of Cornelliana, from the founding ideals and campus landmarks to current research and student groups,” said Corey Earle ’07, associate director of student programs in the Office of Alumni Affairs. “I think the program did a great job highlighting what makes Cornell truly Cornell.”

Michael Gross ’15, alumni affairs officer for the Glee Club, said the energy from the alumni was palpable.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better audience for our performance,” Gross said.

Chandler Waggoner ’15, a member of the Glee Club who performed at the shows, said that he was surprised by the large scale of the production.

“I’ve seen major productions from backstage before, but this one was unlike anything I’d ever worked on,” he said. “The togetherness and precision with which the production crew worked to stay with the acts on stage was really amazing to watch and learn from.”

Waggoner added that the show highlighted the University’s future potential.

“They even talked about the distant bicentennial during the show,” he said. “The big idea is that Cornell looks to the future and works to make it better.”

Darah Barnes ’15, co-president of Cornell Bhangra, said the opportunity to dance for so many alumni and celebrate such a momentous occasion was greater than she could have imagined.

“To share something as unique and cultural as Bhangra with everyone and receive the support and excitement we did from the alumni just felt really good,” Barnes said. “However, I’d have to say my favorite part of the evening was getting to see President [David] Skorton bust out a jazz flute solo alongside the legendary Wynton Marsalis.”

Anne DiGiacomo ’80, project coordinator for the sesquicentennial alumni events, said she has never seen the level of enthusiasm and celebration as was displayed by the participants of Saturday’s two events in her 33 years at Cornell.

“It was especially gratifying to see so many young and diverse alumni participate and to witness the overarching feeling of pride that was evident by everyone in the room,” she said. “Old friends reconnected and new alumni bonds were made.”

Dana Lerner ’14 said, that as a young alumna attending Saturday’s show, she felt proud to see so many alumni from all generations come together to celebrate Cornell.

“It shows that Cornell isn’t just for four years, but for a lifetime,” she said.