Interfaith partnerships help present 'Songs of the Spirit'

Tibetan monks“Songs of the Spirit,” the international concert presented by SUNY Oswego’s Artswego program Nov. 13, celebrates unity among diverse faiths and cultures. Behind the scenes, members of local faith communities have been working to make it happen.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. in St. Mary’s Church, 103 W. Seventh St. in Oswego.

Through a partnership between Artswego and InterFaith Works of Central New York, four readers are selecting texts that address human unity from the perspective of spiritual traditions represented in Central New York. Between performances by such headliners as Odetta, Hugh Masakela, the Shangilia Children’s Choir of Kenya and the monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery, the local readers will offer brief spoken-word interludes from Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Islamic and Native American sources.

The Oswego presentation of “Songs of the Spirit” will be dedicated to the current effort by InterFaith Works to resettle Burmese refugees arriving from camps in Thailand. Growing up in a diplomatic family, Artswego Coordinator Mary Avrakotos formed vivid and lasting impressions of their Southeast Asian homeland.

“I welcome the chance to highlight the needs of these people and the important programs that help refugee families begin a new life in our region,” Avrakotos said. Details on how local residents can contribute will be available at the concert.

A tapestry of world music sounds, “Songs of the Spirit” will appear in only four locations outside New York City. Later in November, the artists will return to upper Manhattan for featured appearances at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Oswego is the only location outside New York City where the event will take place in a church.

“Through the generosity of St. Mary’s Church, Artswego has the opportunity to present the concert in the kind of Gothic sacred space for which it was designed and produced,” Avrakotos said.

New York City-based Parallel Voice Productions created “Songs of the Spirit,” with artistic direction by Brian Young and Jonathan Secor.

The Oswego appearance is supported by the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Concerts and events are funded in part through Meet the Composer’s MetLife Creative Connections program and with additional support from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

SUNY Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs provides additional program support.

Tickets cost $20 ($15 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students). Due to demand, advance reservations are recommended.

For information or reservations, contact SUNY Oswego’s Tyler box office at 312-2141 or

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PHOTO CAPTION: World music—The Tibetan monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery will be part of an international all-star lineup presenting “Songs of the Spirit” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov 13, in St. Mary’s Church, 103 W. Seventh St. in Oswego.

CONTACT: Mary Avrakotos, 312-4581 or

(Posted: Oct 31, 2007)