In an event reminiscent of "America's Got Talent," the second annual Cornell's Got Talent show once again proved that the university harbors a wide range of gifted performers among its faculty and staff members. The Jan. 20 event drew an enthusiastic crowd of about 80 people to Bailey Hall.
This year's contest saw acts ranging from opera, jug-band, swing-dancing and dancing to an Indian Bollywood song to using instruments as varied as keyboard, guitar, washboard and kazoo. Contestants ranged from an employee who has been with the university for only a year to a faculty member who has served Cornell with more than three decades of teaching and research.
Winners were selected by combining the choices of the audience with those of the judges, who all placed in the top three in last year's show -- Mark Lawrence, Web and communications manager, Center for Sustainable Future; Nicole Belcher, medical technologist, Animal Health Diagnostic Center, College of Veterinary Medicine; and Mark Fallon and Jeff Corbin, both grant contract officers in the Office of Sponsored Programs.
First place this year went to vocalist Erica Walters, administrative assistant, Office of Admissions in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who sang "Voi Che Sapete (You Who Know)" from Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro." Second place went to Thomas Kobela, aka "Jomo, the King of Kazoo," who is a drafter in the Laboratory for Elementary-Particle Physics; he sang and played washboard, guitar and kazoo. Singing and playing keyboard and guitar in a rendition of "Here I Stand," Tristan Fields, associate director of undergraduate affinity programs, Alumni Affairs and Development, placed third.
Other performers included: swing-dancing duo Adriana Rovers, assistant director for programming services, International Students and Scholars Office, and Rodney Dietert, professor of immunotoxicology, Vet College; Lavanya Sayam, research support specialist, Flow Cytometry Core Lab, Vet College, dancing to the Bollywood song "Nimbooda Nimbooda"; and Scott Rude, transportation service representative, Transportation and Mail Services, who sang "Welcome Home," a song he composed in memory of co-worker Brian Knapp, who was killed in a car accident in 2008.
Cornell's Got Talent was sponsored by the Cornell Recreation Connection. Julia Leonard, program assistant for Academic Technical Support and User Servlces, organized the program, and Judith Eastburn,