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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Free summer events

Exciting performances, thought-provoking lectures

The School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions invites you to continue your education in one of the most enjoyable ways possible—by attending our free summer events series! We offer concerts and lectures at no charge to encourage you to take a chance and experience something new or listen to music you may never have heard, all while visiting our gorgeous campus.

See the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday pages for a list of past events.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 7:30 pm
Klarman Hall
Soprano Karen Wonder Dumont, a featured performer in summer shows at Cornell since 2009, will present an evening of song ranging from Irish folk songs to American standards, plus musical theater favorites and excerpts from Britten, Delibes, and Verdi operas. She will be joined by pianist Bill Cowdery, harpist Anna O'Connell, and friends from Savoyards Musical Theatre.
Friday, July 1, 2016, 7:00 pm
Cornell Arts Quad
The Zydeco Trail Riders have been playing dance tunes for zydeco, Cajun, and creole music aficionados in upstate New York since 2004. The band is led by its founder, Greg Grodem, who learned to play accordion zydeco-style on trips to southwest Louisiana in the 1990s. Other band members include Jim Reidy on guitar, Ted Oberhaus on bass, Stuart Krasnoff on drums, and Sally Freund on rubboard. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 7:30 pm
Klarman Hall
Described by Dirty Linen magazine as having "a deep knowledge and love of the music and a palpable zest for playing," Traonach plays Irish traditional dance music at its straight-ahead best. Comprising seasoned session players from across the U.S. who now reside in Ithaca—including several who’ve been playing together for more than a quarter century—Traonach delivers a high-energy performance that has audiences at festivals and concert halls quickly on their feet.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 7:00 pm
Kennedy Hall
Readers of Karl Pillemer’s first book, 30 Lessons for Living, appreciated the sage advice and great stories shared by extraordinary older Americans. Now, Pillemer returns with lessons on the most talked-about parts of that book: love, relationships, and marriage. Drawing on interviews with seven hundred long-married elders, his new book, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage, delivers timeless wisdom from a wide range of voices on everything from choosing “the one” to dealing with in-laws, communicating effectively, avoiding conflicts over money and children, and keeping the spark alive for a half century or more. In this lecture, sponsored by the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, Pillemer will draw on the vast resource of elder wisdom to illuminate the path to lifelong, fulfilling relationships.

Pillemer is a professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology and of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, as well as director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA). His major interests center on human development over the life course, with a special emphasis on family and social relationships in middle age and beyond.
Friday, July 8, 2016, 7:00 pm
Cornell Arts Quad
Coracree melds a transatlantic mix of traditional Celtic, old-time, European, and original music with a playful, improvisational style—featuring the lively fiddling of Jane Rothfield, the driving swing of Bill Quern on tenor banjo, mandolin, and melodeon, the inventive guitar stylings of Sarah Gowan, and the melodic and rhythmic stand-up bass playing of Allan Carr.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 7:30 pm
Klarman Hall
Soulful, lively, and lyrical, Crimson offers a melodic and rhythmic blending of Latin jazz and world music from the past and present, including classics from the Brazilian bossa nova era, folkloric gems from south of the border, and modern songs written by contemporary composers. The band features Sally Ramirez, a classically trained vocalist whose music ranges from opera to jazz to folk; Doug Robinson, who’s had a diverse career of touring and session work as a vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and producer; and violinist Eric Aceto, a busy session player and touring musician and acclaimed designer of musical instruments.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 7:00 pm
Kennedy Hall
Lifelong naturalist Katy Payne began her career as a bioacoustics researcher by studying the evolving songs of the humpback whale. She shifted her focus to elephants in 1984, when she and two colleagues discovered infrasonic calling in elephants by recording at a zoo. In this lecture, sponsored by the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, Payne will share her findings about how elephants use these calls to communicate and to coordinate social behavior over long distances.

In 1999, Payne founded the Elephant Listening Project (ELP), which she led until her retirement in 2005. Now a visiting fellow in the Lab of Ornithology’s Bioacoustics Research Program, she continues to play a critical role in all of ELP’s activities.
Friday, July 15, 2016, 7:00 pm
Cornell Arts Quad
Radio London captures the spirit of ‘60s AM radio with danceable classics from British Invasion bands from the Animals to the Zombies, plus Motown and Surf sounds and more. Close harmonies, a tight rhythm section, and searing solos are hallmarks of this beloved local band, which features John Simon on guitar and vocals, Ken Zeserson on guitar, sax, and vocals, Jon Hilton on bass, Mike Vitucci on guitar, and Dan Lashkoff on drums and vocals.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 7:30 pm
Klarman Hall
With a shared interest in historical performance, violinist Wayne Lee and fortepianist Mike Cheng-Yu Lee will present a program of works by Mozart, Schubert, and Beethoven. Mike Lee holds a PhD in musicology from Cornell University, where he studied with Malcolm Bilson, and currently teaches at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University–Bloomington. An active chamber musician living in New York, Wayne Lee is a member of the acclaimed Formosa Quartet and the Manhattan Piano Trio.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 7:00 pm
Kennedy Hall
Ken Blanchard will share his thoughts on “refiring”—a process in which the primary focus is not on career advancement, financial gain, or specific types of achievements, but on healthy living, warm and significant relationships, continued learning and cognitive growth, vitality and meaningful involvement, and the development of a personal sense of spirituality.

An insightful speaker and sought-after business consultant, Blanchard is coauthor of The One Minute Manager, which has sold more than 13 million copies since its publication in 1982. His management consultant company, The Ken Blanchard Companies, has more than 300 employees and offices around the world. Blanchard is a Cornell alum, a trustee emeritus, and a visiting professor at the School of Hotel Administration.
Friday, July 22, 2016, 7:00 pm
Arts Quad
El Rumbon means “big dance party”—and that’s what you get when this hot Latin band launches into a merengue, plena, bomba, cumbia, or chachacha. Led by conga player Charlie Izzo, El Rumbon keeps feet in motion with authentic and irresistible music from way south of the border, played with passion and joy on brass, strings, and percussion.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 7:30 pm
Klarman Hall
Troica is a unique chamber ensemble comprising three members of the faculty of Ithaca College’s School of Music: Kim Dunnick (trumpet), Steven Mauk (alto saxophone), and Diane Birr (piano). The trio draws on existing repertoire and has helped create a body of new works for this combination of instruments, including pieces by Dana Wilson, Marc Satterwhite, Peter Lawrence, Mikhail Bronner, Efrem Podgaits, and Dominick DiOrio.

In addition to its performances in the U.S., Troica has performed in Russia, Slovenia, Siberia, Ireland, and Australia. The trio draws its name from the Russian word troika, which denotes a three-horse sleigh or a governing body made up of three equal individuals. The latter definition was most appropriate for this musical ensemble, but with a respelling using IC to indicate the Ithaca College connection.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 7:00 pm
Kennedy Hall
In this final lecture of Cornell’s free summer lecture series, Brian Earle, long a standard-bearer for proper etiquette, will offer a light-hearted look at how we can all improve our social interactions, our use of electronic devices, and our dining manners. Earle has championed the cause of good manners since his early days of teaching in Cornell’s Department of Communications. “I began getting more and more questions from students who had second interviews over lunch,” says Earle—who then decided that table manners and common courtesy deserved a place in the curriculum.

Retired since 2008, Earle still gives lectures for the career offices on campus and speaks at many schools on the East Coast. His talks range from the art of holding successful conversations with new acquaintances to how to use digital devices politely. Says Earle, “It’s up to each of us to contribute to a more civil environment.”
Friday, July 29, 2016, 7:00 pm
Arts Quad
A longtime favorite of critics and fans, The Horse Flies blend Americana roots with indie rock, ethnic percussion, creative songwriting, and a fierce, percolating groove. With a love of both the traditional and the modern, The Flies have consistently explored the intersection of the two to create a musical world all their own. Part trance-inducing minimalism, achieved through a neo-primitive approach to fiddle music, and part folk-rock American gothic, The Flies’ music is intense, quirky, poetic, and extremely skillful. (Photo credit: Thomas Hoebbel)
Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 7:30 pm
Klarman Hall
Journey West chronicles the migration of musical melodies from their countries of origin to distant lands. Led by ensemble director Max Buckholtz and featuring Dara Anissi, Mark Weinand, Chad Lieberman, and Nikolai Ruskin, this musical journey will follow tunes as they wander the globe as a result of war, imperialism, nomadic dispersions, mass emigrations, and musical crazes. This trek specifically tracks melodies and instrumentation starting in the Middle East and traveling through Europe and across the ocean to the New World.
Friday, August 5, 2016, 7:00 pm
Arts Quad
Central New York’s premier gypsy swing band, Djug Django has been delighting dancers and jazz buffs for years. The ensemble specializes in the music of guitarist Django Reinhardt, who founded the Quintette du Hot Club in Paris in the 1930s—but they also perform jazz standards, Latin rhythms, and “N’awlins soul,” as well as originals by band member and multi-instrumentalist Dave Davies.



"I love summer in Ithaca because of the series — keep it up SCE!"

"It's a wonderful community resource — a great variety of events and you can't beat the price!"