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OK Mountain in Iceland.

Things to Do, Nov. 8-15, 2019

Mother Mallard marks 50

The Department of Music and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company with two concerts, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in Barnes Hall Auditorium and Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Johnson Museum.

The concerts are free and open to the public. The ensemble will perform pieces from founder David Borden’s “The Continuing Story of Counterpoint” – called “the Goldberg Variations of minimalism” – on vintage instruments including original Moog, Minimoog and Juno synthesizers, and a Fender Rhodes electric piano.

Founder David Borden leads Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company in a pair of concerts Nov. 8 and 15 for the synthesizer ensemble’s 50th anniversary.

The world’s first live synthesizer ensemble, Mother Mallard formed with the support of inventor Robert Moog, Ph.D. ’64. Its debut in Barnes Hall in May 1969 preceded Wendy Carlos’ “Switched-On Bach” and The Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” both featuring Moog instruments.

Borden is among the first minimalist composers; he worked at Moog’s Trumansburg studio, composed music for “The Exorcist” (1973) and other films, and established Cornell’s Digital Music Program (now the Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center).

The performances are a rare opportunity to hear the group, which will consist of Borden, David Yearsley, Blaise Bryski, Gabriel Borden ’98, Richard Valittuto, Louise Mygatt, Tom Killian, Annette Richards, Roger Moseley and Xak Bjerken. Yearsley recently wrote about the anniversary for Counterpunch magazine.

Apple Bake-off

Bakers will compete for glory, a grand prize and a people’s choice award for their edible apple creations at Cornell Orchards’ second annual Apple Bake-off, Saturday, Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cornell Orchards Store, 709 Dryden Road, Ithaca.

The public is welcome and winners will be determined by tasters’ votes. The event is a fundraiser for the United Way of Tompkins County. For more information, call 607-255-4542.

Humanizing climate change

Rice University anthropologists Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer will discuss the recent and tangible effects of climate change in a free public lecture, “Of Flood and Ice,” Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 4:30 p.m. at the A.D. White House.

The lecture includes a Q&A with the audience, and will be followed by a public reception. It is sponsored by the Society for the Humanities, where the speakers are 2019-20 Invited Society Scholars.

In advance of the lecture, Cornell Cinema hosts a free screening of Boyer and Howe’s documentary with Icelandic filmmaker Ragnar Hansson, “Not Ok,” Monday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. in Willard Straight Theatre.

The lecture addresses effects of climate change such as the melting of Okjökull (Ok glacier) in Iceland and floodwaters in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, exploring a concept the scholars call “hydrological globalization.”

To humanize the manmade problem of climate change, the personified voice of Ok Mountain narrates the film, adding humor and perspective. When Boyer and Howe decided to hold a funeral for the glacier, more than 100 people attended, including Iceland’s prime minister, the former president of Ireland, scholars, artists and local families.

Howe is among the founding faculty of the Center for Energy and Environmental Research at Rice University; Boyer is its founding director. They have published extensively in the field of energy humanities.

Alumna’s mob drama

Cornell Cinema welcomes writer-director Andrea Berloff ’95 for a screening of her directorial debut, “The Kitchen,” Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in Willard Straight Theatre.

Adapted from a graphic novel and set in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen in 1978, the drama follows a trio of Irish mob wives (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss) who take over the neighborhood rackets when their husbands are sent to prison.

Also showing: “Taste of Cement,” Nov. 13 at 7 p.m., introduced by Mary Woods, emeritus professor of architecture. Making its local premiere, the 2017 documentary follows the lives of Syrian laborers rebuilding postwar Beirut: working at great heights, constantly surrounded by cacophonous hammering, drilling and sawing; traumatized by building collapses and memories of war; and living under curfew in dismal barracks.

Program note: “Hustlers,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Julia Stiles, is screening Nov. 14 and 16, instead of the postponed “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Creative Writing alumni reading

Four alumni writers, winners of the 2019 Philip Freund Prize in Creative Writing, will read from their work Nov. 14 at 4:30 p.m. in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, 132 Goldwin Smith Hall. Presented by the Creative Writing Program’s Barbara & David Zalaznick Reading Series, the reading is free and open to the public.

Poet Dorothy Chan ’12 is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. She is the author of “Revenge of the Asian Woman,” “Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold” and the chapbook “Chinatown Sonnets.” Chan is a contributing editor at The Southeast Review, and the poetry editor of Hobart. 

Poet Nicholas Friedman, MFA ’12, is the author of “Petty Theft,” winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize. He is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow and a recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Fellowship. 

Ruth Joffre ’11 teaches writing at the Hugo House in Seattle and is the author of the story collection “Night Beast.”

Daniel Peña, MFA ’12, is a Pushcart Prize-winning writer and author of the novel “Bang.” An assistant professor of English at the University of Houston, he is a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholar.

A free catered reception and book signing will follow in the English Lounge, 258 Goldwin Smith Hall. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided at the reading; books by the authors will be available for purchase courtesy of Buffalo Street Books.

Border fiction and reality

Author and MacArthur fellow Valeria Luiselli will discuss her 2019 novel “Lost Children Archive” in the Department of Romance Studies’ Distinguished Lecture, “Migrant Stories in the American Border Crisis,” Nov. 15 at 4:30 p.m. in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public; a reception and book signing follows.

Valeria Luiselli

Luiselli and professor and department chair Edmundo Paz Soldán will discuss the novel’s themes, and a Q&A with the audience follows.

In the novel, a family crosses the United States by car, en route to Arizona. On the radio, news of an immigration crisis at the border follows the family.

Based on Luiselli’s immersive research in immigration courts at the border, the book follows “Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions,” compiled from interviews she conducted with undocumented children seeking a fresh start in the U.S.

“Luiselli’s personal interest in the situation of children at the border, shown in her last two books, has turned her into one of the most prominent voices of the crisis,” Paz Soldán said.

“Lost Children Archive” is a finalist for the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Luiselli received the MacArthur Fellowship this year, commonly called the “genius grant.”

Media Contact

Abby Butler