John Gongeui Lee

Hometown: Mission, TX
College: Arts and Sciences
Major: Statistical Science
Year: 2018

I think some Cornellians love the bells, others favorably tolerate the chimesmasters and our selection of quirky pieces, while others find the concerts a public inconvenience. As for me, I've found my weekly 7:45am concert a struggle as it requires me to start my day earlier than I'd like in order to hike up Libe Slope, climb the tower, and breathlessly hammer out notes for the sake of tradition. However, as I approach my senior year, I am surprised to already feel nostalgic for my first Ithaca winter when I trekked through ice and cold in the dark morning hours just for a chance to become a Cornell Chimesmaster.

Through all of the concerts I've played, interacting with first-time guests has been a genuine pleasure. Mirrored in their expressions I can experience what I felt when I first came up McGraw Tower’s steps in search of either a musician or a machine playing Cornell’s bells. I've enjoyed performing in pursuit of the elusive high derived from perfectly expressing a particularly emotive piece of music. Music is described as a "universal language" for good reason, and at times I wonder whether someone below might be listening to my performance and sharing an emotional experience with me.

As the Head Chimesmaster, I am both excited and saddened to be living out the culmination of my four-year experience with the Cornell Chimes. From my time in the tower with chimesmasters who've come and gone, I know my last moments as a student at the playing stand will be bittersweet. Regardless of what their opinion of the chimes may have been, I hope every Cornellian will hear chimes ringing in the distance when they fondly recollect their time at Cornell, whether they imagine their favorite piece or a springtime performance of “Let It Snow.”