Music students enjoy Mardi Gras block break tour

Nearly 30 Cornell students celebrated Mardi Gras during Block 5 block break while on tour in New Orleans, playing their way down St. Charles Avenue in four parades seen by more than a million people.

New Orleans, LA - 2/3/2016 - The Pandemonium steel drum band from Cornell College played aboard a float during the Druids parade in Uptown New Orleans
Pandemonium steel drum band, Calypso Singers, and Calypso Horns float down St. Charles Avenue.

The students are members of Pandemonium steel drum band, Calypso Singers, and Calypso Horns, under the direction of Cornell music professors Martin Hearne and Lisa Hearne.  Six alumni joined them as they performed aboard a custom float.

“There were throngs of people lining every street we went down,” said sophomore Drew Klocke. “There were some places where the crowd was half-a-block deep. The energy was incredible!”

Several students walked the parade, dancing with crowd members and inviting them to sing into the microphone.  The Cornell group was the only steel drum band in the parades, and they were among a very few participants from outside the South.

“The crowds were incredibly responsive,” said Martin Hearne. “By the fourth parade, fans were holding up signs with song requests. We had some great compliments on the students’ energy, enthusiasm, and talent.”

Each parade, said Lisa Hearne, “was a performer’s dream come true: A four-hour performance! Our faces hurt from smiling so much.”

After an overnight bus ride from Mount Vernon, and hours of performing, the students drew on the energy of the vast crowds.

“It was energizing to see all of the people who were dancing, singing, and thrilled to see us,” said first-year student Tanner Nielson, “That was fortunate because we needed all the energy we could get for those parades.”

Photos by William Widmer ’04