Cornell hosts outdoor Music Festival May 8

Cornell College is pleased to announce the Cornell Concert Series’ 2021 May Music Festival, a free outdoor festival held from 1–4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 8. As a result of the ongoing pandemic and the resulting loss of work for regional musicians, the festival will feature outstanding musicians and musical groups from the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City corridor.

Performers will be Mektoub at 1 p.m., Tom Nothnagle at 2:15 p.m., and the Rod Pierson Big Band featuring Craig Boche at 3:30 p.m. The concerts are free and open to members of the college and local community. There will be a short break between sets.

The May Music Festival will be held on the Kimmel Theatre patio and audience members are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets and sit on the lawn. All in attendance (except those under 2) will be required to wear face masks and practice physical distancing. 

Mektoub performs a repertoire of original music by singer-songwriter Daniel Gaglione, an Iowa immigrant from southern France. His compositional style is rooted in influences from reggae, jazz, and musical traditions from North Africa, and his joyful lyrics often speak to values of social progress and love. The ensemble came together in 2019 as a trio of musicians in Iowa City and has been steadily adding new members. Before the pandemic put an abrupt halt to public concerts, Mektoub could most frequently be found performing at Goosetown Café in Iowa City.

Its members are Gaglione on mandole (a North African stringed instrument) and vocals; John Rapson on keyboard; Ryan Smith on saxophones, clarinets, and flute; Justin LeDuc on drums; and Blake Shaw on bass.

Tom Nothnagle
Tom Nothnaglev
Acclaimed guitarist Tom Nothnagle will perform a program of classical guitar music on the electric guitar. As a professional musician since the 1970s, Nothnagle creates genre-bending improvisations and compositions rooted in classical guitar technique. His training is as varied as his musical approach including instruction and influence from Benjamin Verdery, John Hoffman, Michael Lorimer, Nelson Amos, and Pierre Bensusan.

Nothnagle is a native Iowan who has served since 1990 as a rostered artist for the Iowa Arts Council offering cultural and historical music demonstrations including classical guitar, flamenco guitar, historical banjo, baroque mandolin, and antique parlor guitar. As guest soloist, he has performed in over 50 classical concerts throughout the central Midwest. In 1988 he won the All-Iowa Heavyweight Guitar Championship. Other chapters of his career include gigs in California, Oregon, Boston, Manhattan, and Paris.

Rod Pierson Big Band featuring Craig Boche

Rod Pierson Big Band
Rod Pierson Big Band

The Rod Pierson Big Band featuring Craig Boche is an exciting ensemble that offers the sound of today’s big bands, the biggest entertainers from the popular “Rat Pack” period, and classic instrumental big band hits. This extensive repertoire gives the band depth and versatility to please any audience. The natural mixture of class and cool guarantees a memorable performance without a lot of show biz pretense. Rod Pierson’s band, which played at Cornell in 2019, takes an approach that is fun, honest, and memorable.