161 to the Cornell Chimes

When I think of a quintessential “Cornell” moment, I become nostalgic remembering what it is like to walk to class on a crisp, clear morning and hear the Cornell Chimes playing “Here Comes the Sun.” In this blog post, Reba McCutcheon shares what life is like from inside of McGraw Tower…

Reba McCutcheon '96, Associate Director

A huge fan of the Ithaca area, I’ve lived in the Finger Lakes region for most of my life. I enjoy the outdoors and take full advantage of the state parks, waterfalls, hiking and cross country skiing trails, and the local festivals and farmer’s markets. At Cornell, I advise the Cornell Ambassadors and the Red Carpet Society, two student groups that aim to make the campus visit experience positive and productive.  Majoring in communication, I graduated from Cornell’s Agriculture and Life Science College in ’96 and have been a staff member since ‘98.

View From McGraw Tower
The view up here is nice...

The view up here is nice…you just have to climb 161 steps to see it.

McGraw Tower is home to the Cornell Chimes, one of the largest instruments of its kind in the world.

Climb the 161 steps and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking, panoramic view of campus and a stretching sight of beautiful Cayuga Lake. For more than 135 years, the Cornell Chimes and the chimemasters have serenaded Cornellians and visitors three times daily during the school year.  In addition to the traditional Cornell songs (the “Jennie McGraw Rag”, the “Alma Mater”, and the “Cornell Evening Song”), the tunes that ring out over campus vary from

Reba at the Chimes
Reba playing the chimes

Baroque to Beatles, Brittany Spears to the Star Wars theme, and they’ll even take requests. The chimes are central to campus celebrations. On Dragon Day, as the dragon weaves through Ho Plaza and the Arts Quad, “Puff the Magic Dragon” rings out for all to enjoy and the face of

the clocktower turns green on St. Patrick’s Day and orange with a pumpkin face on Halloween. Visitors are always welcome at concerts and special tours may be arranged by request. It was on such a special tour that I was afforded the honor to play the actual chimes. Well, I got to strike the bell at 10 a.m. as the chimesmaster was patiently yet persistently keeping time for me. See the schedule and learn more about the chimes at www.chimes.cornell.edu.

Listen for yourself!