Cortland’s musical legacy project turns up volume

Cortland’s musical legacy project turns up volume

06/25/2024 

The average Red Dragon may not realize that 23 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees went to SUNY Cortland.

To be clear, Jerry Garcia, Neil Diamond and Linda Ronstadt didn’t actually attend the university. They performed on campus, along with 33 Grammy Award winners and scores of other artists between 1960 and 1990, during a time when music industry economics and rising student influence created a golden age of campus concerts.

At SUNY Cortland, a group of alumni and volunteers have worked to keep the memories of that era alive through the SUNY Cortland Musical Legacy Commemoration Project.

As a result, Cortland’s golden concert history has a strong presence on campus and among alumni, ranging from a massive wall sculpture in Corey Union to a series of shadow boxes highlighting concert ads, tickets, programs and other memorabilia.

And that presence is about to get stronger. Blockbuster musicians may no longer rely on campus tours to market albums, but new projects of the Musical Legacy Committee allow more people to engage with the campus’s musical past:

New website

Members of the Musical Legacy Committee recently announced that a Cortland concert era website has gone live.  On it, visitors can explore a timeline of concerts over the decades and view the group’s collection of memorabilia. They can learn about the prominent sculpture celebrating the musicians who performed on campus and view the dedication ceremony of the Billy Joel piano - which the legendary artist played during Cortland performances in 1972 and 1974 - in the Corey Union Function Room.

Sculpture addition

Scott Oldfield ’06, a professional artist,  was commissioned to create a representation of an acoustic guitar to add to his sculpture of musical instruments originally installed in Corey Union in July 2019. Modeled on the guitar Judy Collins played when she performed in 1963, 1964 and 1965 in the old gymnasium in Moffett Center, then known as the HPER Building. The new addition, like the original pieces, will be made from copper and steel. The augmented sculpture, which celebrates the many iconic female and acoustic folk artists who played on campus in the 1960s and ’70s, is expected to be installed in time for Alumni Reunion 2024.

Complemented by LED lighting that pulses in time with recorded music from the performers it commemorates, the sculpture is a permanent installation on the food court level of Corey Union. 

Presence at Alumni Reunion 2024

The Musical Legacy Committee is collaborating with the reunion affinity featured group, Student Activities Board/Board of Governors, which will host an all-alumni social in the Corey Union Function Room on Friday, July 12. The intent of the gathering is to celebrate the events brought to campus by alumni who were active with those groups, bringing concert organizers and attendees together to share memories of those classic shows. There will be casino games with prizes totaling more than $300, a short program about the evolution of SUNY Cortland’s legendary concerts, and a performance on the 50-year-old refurbished Steinway piano played by Billy Joel and dedicated to him. Complimentary pizza, desserts and nonalcoholic beverages will be served and a cash bar will be available.

In other events, Jack Samuels ’73, Ph.D., will speak on the history of SUNY Cortland musical performances.

Meanwhile, committee members will showcase artists who performed during the featured alumni group years of 1963, 1968, 1973 and 1978 on Corey Union’s ground floor.

Also, committee members will staff concert memorabilia displays at various events throughout campus, including the Class of 1974 50th Reunion Dinner and Celebration, the President’s Welcome Reception and Brews and Barbecue All-Reunion Bash.

For more details on the dates, times and locations of Musical Legacy events during Reunion 2024, view the complete reunion schedule.


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