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Artswego's Season Series to Share a World of Tales

Artswego will offer a 2011-12 season that celebrates the universal act of storytelling.

Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin

"Telling Tales: The Arts and Discovery" is the thematic banner for a lineup of musicians, dancers, actors, filmmakers and other artists who will visit the lakeside campus during the academic year. The performances, many on weekends, are open to students and visitors.

"From 'Lion King' choreographer Garth Fagan to cutting-edge performance artist Cynthia Hopkins, we've assembled master storytellers of our time," said Artswego coordinator Mary Avrakotos. "Each crafts vivid narratives from the shared elements of language, image, motion and sound."

The ancient story of human longing for the divine is carried forward by Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers. Bearers of a centuries-old Sufi tradition of ecstatic singing, the group will appear in Oswego through the auspices of "Caravanserai" — an initiative in international understanding by Arts Midwest, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Along with the percussion ensemble of Tari Khan, they will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Ralph M. Faust Auditorium at Oswego High School.

Paul Rajeckas, a favorite with area audiences, will return to Waterman Theatre for two performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 9 and 10. Rajeckas, who performed his "Notes to the Motherland" four years ago, returns with a second serving from his Lithuanian trilogy. "Love Cures Cancer" shares another poignant story of the zany Bombilitus family -- now drawn together by an unexpected illness.

A reviewer for the New York Press calls Cynthia Hopkins' performance pieces "the definition of post-modern artistry." Following a run at New York City's SoHo Rep, Hopkins will bring her latest creation, "The Truth: A Tragedy," to Waterman Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27. In an offbeat vaudeville performance of tragicomic riffs, she offers un-retouched reflections on her eccentric father in song, dance, monologue and video.

A consummate storyteller for the screen, Christopher Monger is best known for the Hugh Grant feature film "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain" and his Emmy-nominated screenplay for the HBO biopic "Temple Grandin." The prolific writer and director will present a free illustrated lecture at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, in the Campus Center auditorium.

An Upstate and national treasure, Garth Fagan spins vibrant tales with Afro-Caribbean energy and rule-breaking movement. The Tony and Olivier award winner constantly renews his distinctive dance vocabulary. Fagan's Rochester-based company will offer a long-anticipated performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, in Waterman Theatre.

On Monday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m., filmmaker Ayesha Khan will screen and discuss her documentary, "Made in Pakistan," in the Campus Center auditorium as part of Caravanserai. Following the lives of four young professionals in Lahore, her work conveys familiar human concerns and stories in a complex society that the daily headlines often distort, Avrakotos said.

The Artswego season will draw to a close with a final Caravanserai event featuring Arif Lohar, a world music sensation who has performed from London's Wembley Arena to the Asian Games in China. With young singer Sanam Marvi, he will bring an evening of Punjabi and Urdu pop/folk blends and a warm, entertaining musical spirit to the Campus Center arena at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11.

The special presentations by filmmakers Christopher Monger and Ayesha Kahn are un-ticketed free events. Tickets for all other Artswego performances may be purchased at SUNY Oswego box office locations or by phone at 315-312-2141. Parking is free on evenings and weekends for those attending Artswego events.

— John Shaffer

Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers, direct descendants of Hazrat Yameenuddin Abul-Hasan Amir Khusrou, a 13th century legendary musician, will perform Qawwali, a spiritual Sufi traditional form of devotional song common in the group's native Pakistan and in India, at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at Oswego High School.

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