Cornell 2021-22 fine arts preview

Cornell College’s departments of music, art, and theatre have prepared an exciting season of offerings for 2021-22. All events are open to the public and admission is free for music and art events. 

Highlights include:

  • A residency by Charles Thomas Hayes ’77—coordinator of choral, vocal, and piano studies at Simmons College of Kentucky—that culminates in a February performance of Ray’s “The Gospel Mass” by the Cornell choirs and guest artists.
  • “Art of the Pandemic,” with works by over 20 alumni artists; and a show by Rupert Kinnard ’79, who created the oldest continuing Black gay and lesbian comic characters in the U.S.
  • A return to fully live performance featuring Cornell’s bachelor of fine arts program and the world’s longest-running musical, “The Fantasticks.”

In addition to our student ensembles, the Cornell Concert Series will bring regional musicians to campus for four concerts by jazz and classical ensembles.


Charles Thomas Hayes '77
Charles Thomas Hayes ’77

Assistant Professor of Music Chris Nakielski has invited alumnus Charles Thomas Hayes ’77 for a residency with Cornell’s treble chamber chorus and mixed-voice concert choir, which will culminate in a Feb. 26, 2022, with a gospel and spirituals concert featuring Robert Ray’s “The Gospel Mass.”

“He will work with us and provide technical advice to help us get that gospel sound that is not easy as a predominantly white choir,” says Nakielski, who was once the only white singer in a Chicago gospel choir. “This has been a pipedream of mine for quite a while, to bring in someone who can give legitimate advice on how to approach gospel music. We will embrace the uncomfortable and get a handle on a style that is indigenous to America.”

The Ray “Gospel Mass” is a first of its kind, Nakielski says. Hayes, who teaches at the historically Black college Simmons College of Kentucky, will bring a soprano, alto, tenor, and bass from Chicago to assist as section leaders and help the Cornell students learn through assimilation. Hayes and Nakielski will share conducting duties at the concert.

The second major choir concert will be as part of Orchestra Iowa’s production of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Cornell will join other area college choirs in the choral finale under Music Director Timothy Hankewich. Concerts are April 23 at Cedar Rapids’ Paramount Theatre and April 24 at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City.

“We don’t have King Chapel [due to reconstruction] this year so what a great thing to fall into our laps. We can still do a masterwork and not have to be in our own venue,” Nakielski says. “Everybody comes in or out of college with different masterworks. I’ve never sung Beethoven’s Ninth. I’m looking forward to joining the ranks myself, grabbing a folder and singing with my singers.”

Watch the music department webpage for a full concert schedule.

Fall Luce Gallery exhibitions

"Know No Good No How," print by Dana Potter.
“Know No Good No How,” print by Dana Potter.

“Art of the Pandemic” will be on view Oct. 1–Nov. 5 at Cornell’s Peter Paul Luce Gallery in McWethy Hall. The show features work by more than 20 Cornell alumni. A public reception will be held in the gallery from 3–5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, during Homecoming.

“Light and Sound” is a collaborative exhibit Nov. 19–Dec. 17 by Dana Potter and Cornell Assistant Professor of Art Alex McKenzie. Potter, who teaches at the University of Northern Iowa, is a printmaker and technologist with an interest in biometric and sensory technologies. Her practice includes work involving eye-trackers, location mapping, and facial recognition. McKenzie is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is informed by internet and memetic culture and manifests itself in numerous forms, including music composition and interactive sound installation. “Light and Sound” feature projections and data visualizations that document and respond to generative sound works.

Rupert Kinnard ’79Watch for a show by Rupert Kinnard ’79 from Jan. 21 to March 11, 2022. Kinnard’s work has been included in numerous anthologies and collections of work by Black and gay artists, and he created the oldest continuing black gay and lesbian comic characters in the U.S. His Brown Bomber, a black, gay superhero, appeared regularly in The Cornellian newspaper and in the 1979 Royal Purple yearbook.

All shows are in the Peter Paul Luce Gallery in McWethy Hall. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.


Short Cuts production posterThe Department of Theatre and Dance 2021-22 season is about re-examining the past in new ways. It’s designed to educate our students, but also to delight, thrill, and even scare our audiences, whether online or back in a traditional theatre space. There’s a little something for everyone this year. 

“Short Cuts: An Anthology of Scary Stories” is a short film, telling scary stories with shadow puppetry. Streaming begins Nov. 5. 

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play” is a great holiday favorite with two ways to experience it—live in the auditorium or audio online. The show runs Dec. 9–12.

“The Fantasticks” is our projected return to fully live performance featuring our B.F.A. program. It is the longest-running musical in the world and with good reason: At the heart of its breathtaking poetry and subtle theatrical sophistication is a purity and simplicity that transcends cultural barriers. The show runs Feb. 17–27, 2022.

“Freedom Dances” is our celebratory return to live dance performance, comprised of new works developed by faculty and student choreographers. The show runs April 29–May 1, 2022.

The full dates, descriptions, and ticket details for the theatre productions are available online.