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Things to Do, Dec. 13-Jan. 17

Film screenings

Students from film production courses in the Department of Performing and Media Arts will screen their film projects Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Schwartz Center’s Kiplinger Theatre, with food and drinks to follow.

The screenings are free and open to the public and will include films from PMA 3570: Introduction to Visual Storytelling, and from PMA 4585: Advanced Film and Video Projects.

Also this weekend: Cornell Cinema closes out the semester with Quentin Tarantino’s Golden Globe Award-nominated “Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood,” Dec. 12-14 at 7 p.m. in Willard Straight Theatre.

The Cornell Cinema office in 104 Willard Straight Hall, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, is selling all-access passes, T-shirts and $10 movie posters for gift-giving, and has posted a 2020 Programming Survey to help select films for next semester’s schedule.

Longest night

The winter solstice is a sacred and festive time in ancient traditions, celebrated in cultures around the world. Cornell Botanic Gardens marks the solstice on Dec. 20 with a pair of events at the Nevin Welcome Center; and a traditional Persian celebration comes to campus Dec. 14.

Learn about the holly and the ivy, mistletoe and more at a Winter Solstice garden tour and celebration Dec. 20 at Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Learn how plants cope with winter’s cold and hear some seasonal plant folklore during a tour of the Mullestein Family Winter Garden from noon to 1 p.m.; and enjoy hot cocoa afterward at the welcome center. There is a $5 suggested donation; register online. All ages are welcome.

Plants and Stories of the Winter Solstice, 4-6 p.m., highlights the natural history and folklore of plants associated with the season, such as oak, holly, ivy, mistletoe and evergreens. An indoor presentation by Botanic Gardens staff and volunteers is accompanied by tasty seasonal treats prepared by Cornell Catering, craft hard cider tastings and traditional Wassail toasts. Weather permitting, the event concludes with a candlelight visit to the Winter Garden to sing some plant-related carols. The fee is $25, $20 for members. Advance registration is required. Participants must be age 21 or older with ID.

The celebration of the longest night of the year with friends and family also is a longstanding Persian tradition known as Shab-e Yalda. Traditionally involving a warm and welcoming party with nuts, watermelon and pomegranates, drinks, reading poems and having fun, Yalda is observed among cultures in other countries, too, including Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

This year the Iranian Graduate Students (IGS) organization will welcome winter with a Yalda celebration and dinner open to the Cornell community, families and friends, Dec. 14 from 7-10 p.m. in 148 Stocking Hall. The cost is $10 by Dec. 12, $15 at the door. A Yalda Night Party for the graduate student community follows from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Big Red Barn. The first 50 people will get drinks courtesy of IGS.

Contact Shahab for more information on the events, or accommodations to attend.

Concerto competition

Students from across the university will participate in the 17th annual Cornell Concerto Competition, Dec. 15 in Barnes Hall Auditorium. The final round from 8-9 p.m. is free and open to the public.

Open to all undergraduate students at Cornell, the competition is presented by the Department of Music. Students perform with accompanists on concertos composed for piano, violin, flute, cello, French horn or saxophone. Following the afternoon round, finalists are chosen by a panel of judges.

The winner of the final round will be announced that evening and will be a featured performer on a concerto with the Cornell Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 29, 2020, in Bailey Hall.

The judges for the 2019 competition are Phiroze Mehta and Christin Schillinger of the Ithaca College School of Music; and Alexander Shuhan, principal horn with the Binghamton Philharmonic and the Fort Smith (Arkansas) Symphony.

Beauty and tragedy

Fashion & Feathers,” featuring fashion items incorporating feathers displayed alongside bird specimens, illustrations and video, is on display through Jan. 20, 2020, on the Terrace Level of the Human Ecology Building.

“Fashion & Feathers,” on display until Jan. 20, 2020 in the Human Ecology Building, explores inspiration and impacts including the demand for feathers in fashion design and the decline of bird species such as the now extinct Carolina parakeet, right.

The display reflects fashion and textile designers’ long fascination with birds and their plumage, and shows the influence of birds on dress across the globe and motifs used in fashion design. It also explores the complex and nebulous space between inspiration from nature and the exploitation of wild species. Demand for feathers by the fashion industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries led to the deaths of an estimated 300 million birds, bringing some species to near-extinction.

The collaborative exhibition was curated by Denise Green ’07, assistant professor of fiber science and apparel design in the College of Human Ecology and director of the Cornell Costume and Textile Collection; John Fitzpatrick, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and Vanya Rohwer, curator of birds and mammals at the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates.

Employee celebration

Tickets are on sale Dec. 13 through Jan. 17 for the Winter Employee Celebration, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, on campus.

The celebration, for Cornell staff, faculty, retirees and their families, includes Big Red athletic events, a community dinner from 2-4 p.m. in the Ramin Room of Bartels Hall, and other activities. The dinner menu features chicken parmesan and pasta with grilled vegetables, with vegan and gluten-free options available.

Athletic events included in admission will feature the women’s and men’s indoor track teams hosting the Upstate Challenge, all day; women’s and men’s swimming and basketball; tennis; and wrestling. Tickets for wrestling vs. Harvard are limited and may be requested through the Athletics office.

Advance tickets are $5 per person, available Dec. 13 through Jan. 17 at the Athletic Department Ticket Office in Bartels Hall (open weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or by calling 607-255-4247. Volunteers are also needed for the event; contact for details.

Dramatic writing contest

Cornell undergraduates are invited to enter original scripts in the annual Heermans-McCalmon Competition for Dramatic Writing, sponsored by the Department of Performing and Media Arts.

The short-form competition welcomes scripts for works of up to 10 minutes in length that engage some aspect of American life. Submissions must be original work; translations, adaptations and previously produced projects are not eligible.

The contest will award cash prizes ($500 for first-place entries, $250 for second-place entries) in each of three categories: best 10-minute stage play; best 10-minute screenplay; and best solo performance/spoken word monologue.

The competition is open to all Cornell undergraduate students who are registered for both the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters and are in good academic standing.

Scripts must be submitted by 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. All applicants will be contacted by email with the announcement of the winners.

The first-place entries will be presented as works-in-progress at a public performance, March 20, 2020, at 4:30 p.m. at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. Winning writers are encouraged to participate in the preparation and presentation of their material to further their work’s development. Guest artists will be invited to campus to participate in the event and attend a celebratory dinner with the winners.

Entrants may submit one script in each category, typewritten and appropriately formatted. To enter, send a PDF attachment to along with a completed cover sheet form. Paper entries will not be accepted. Questions should be addressed to Pam Lillard at or 607-254-2703.

The competition was founded at the bequest of Forbes Heermans (Class of 1878) and in memory of the late George McCalmon, professor of speech and drama.

Media Contact

Abby Butler