Mardi Gras kickoff concert is Jan. 23
Cornell College’s Caribbean music groups will heat up a cold winter night with a Mardi Gras pre-tour concert in King Chapel at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23. Admission is open free to the public.
Performing will be the Pandemonium steel drum band, the Calypso Singers, and the Calypso horns. A week later the 30-student contingent heads to New Orleans to play their way down St. Charles Avenue, route of the four parades in which they will appear. Crowds are expected to number more than a million people.
The Mardi Gras tour is possible because of Cornell’s One Course At A Time curriculum. The tour takes place during Block Break between Blocks 5 and 6 of Cornell’s eight-block year.
Pandemonium, the Calypso Singers, and the Calypso horns are directed by professors of music Martin Hearne and Lisa Hearne. Pandemonium is the only steel drum band appearing at Mardi Gras, Martin Hearne said, and one of the very few groups from outside the Gulf South.
“There’s no place like New Orleans. Its musical and cultural roots are very old and very deep,” says Martin Hearne, a Louisiana native. “It’s a wonderful experience to participate in one of the greatest celebrations in the world.”
Pandemonium is the most accomplished of the three steel drum bands at Cornell. There are about 50 steel drummers involved in the three bands, as well as seven Calypso singers and five horn players.
During the parades, the Cornell students will ride on a 30-foot by 10-foot float built especially for the occasion. As with all Mardi Gras floats, the Cornell contingent will be throwing beads to the crowd, but with a twist: they’ll be using recycled beads from ARC of Greater New Orleans. The nonprofit serves people with intellectual disabilities and delays from birth through adulthood.
“It is a huge service, environmentally friendly, and a great way to allow those who work in the facility an opportunity to be an integral part of one of the biggest events in the country,” says Hearne.