Arts in the Ith

So. You’re in Ithaca. You’re in college. What to do now?
When prelims, lab reports and snow aren’t getting you down (read: seldom), there’s a lively arts scene right outside your doorstep to keep you sane. From barn-burning bashes in Barton to art appreciation in the Johnson, there’s something for every taste. Cornell may be known for its cows and gorges, but it’s no slouch when it comes to music, theater, film and fine art.

A Pleasantly Pain-ful Night of Music at Risley

If any angst-ridden teenagers showed up to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s show Saturday night at Risley Hall expecting gloomy, My Chemical Romance fare, they would have been sorely disappointed with the night’s musical offerings (though surely, given that misleading and cringe-inducing name, we couldn’t have blamed them for expecting some emo). But despite the musical illusions created by their name, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the Brooklyn buzz band that has the indie blogosphere slobbering, play shiny shoegaze pop — and damn do they have fun doing it.

Heartbreak, Hipsters and Harmony

Despite the fact that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart seemed to have picked their name in a fit of emo melancholy, their music isn’t superficial — it’s actually pretty awesome. The Brooklyn trio, who will be playing at Risley Hall on Saturday, have been lauded across the music blogosphere for being the next hot thing. They’ve been compared to so many bands (My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths, The Verve, Jesus and Mary Chain, etc.) that you might worry that they’ve got little heart of their own. Is this a band that — as the all-holy Pitchfork Media seems to suggest — might have picked the right influences and cruised on that success?

Making Waves in Feminism at Risley

All male playwrights are necessarily chauvinists. On the one hand, if they write plays without leading female characters, they are obviously enthralled with perpetuating the imbalance of roles in favor of men in a profession where the number of actresses outnumber their male counterparts. On the other hand, if they do write leading female characters, those characters are inevitably neurotic, damaged, benighted, angry, difficult and depressed.

A Flavorful Flight of Fancy

While doing some research on the “magic berry,” I read an article in The New York Times called the “The Tiny Fruit that Tricks the Tongue.” The authors Patrick Farrel and Kassie Bracken stated that one woman claimed Tabasco sauce tasted just like doughnut glaze after eating the small fruit. Excited about this remarkable story, I went to the “Flavor Tripping” event anticipating an eccentric night of wild taste testing. I was anxious to experience the effects of this berry for myself, hoping to walk away with a novel taste-altering experience I could boast about to my friends and family back home. Yet, to my utter disappointment, I must sadly admit that there can be no boasting over this berry.

Hocus Pocus

Not too far from the Hogwarts-style dining hall, a different kind of magic was stirring in the halls of Risley. This past weekend, the Risley Theater hosted three performances of “An Evening of Wonder,” a mind reading and magic show presented by Risley’s own stage wizard and psychological illusionist extraordinaire, Jon Tai ’11. And as its name suggests, the show was nothing short of wonderful.

Cornell Plays Host to Two Classical Music Performances

Attending two musical events this weekend, I puzzled over the fact that no matter how precise musicians are in their interpretations, each audience member will ultimately hear something different. I began to feel like one of the characters in Howards End, who get carried away at a concert until they’re no longer focused on the sounds, but rather on their own romantic raptures. Both events, a “historically-informed” staging of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni at Risley, as well as a program by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra in Bailey, filtered the past through the terms of the present. I wondered whether what we hear often tells us more about how our ears have been conditioned than it does about the music itself.