Arts series at SUNY Oswego to blend current, classic fare

From bluegrass to the Bard, the 2013-14 Artswego Series at State University College at Oswego offers a diverse slate of artists and performing arts experiences to area audiences.

“Whether tastes incline toward music or theater, traditional or contemporary expressions, we’ve covered the bases,” series director John Shaffer said. “And we’ve held ticket costs far below levels seen at premiere venues around the country – big-city opportunities at small-town prices.”

The season begins Sept. 7, with two performances by the Cashore Marionettes at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Waterman Theater.

Through virtuosic movement, music and poetic insight, master puppeteer Joseph Cashore leads his audience on a journey that celebrates the richness of life. Cashore’s shows – the matinee especially for families and the other designed for grown-ups – are entertaining, surprising and theatrically satisfying one-of-a-kind events, Shaffer said.

Appearing at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 in Waterman Theater, Melody of China is a San Francisco-based world-music ensemble – equally adept at traditional and contemporary Chinese music.

Celebrating an instrument family that extends from East to West — the yangqin (hammered dulcimer or cimbalom) — the musicians are joined by Rochester folk favorite Mitzie Collins and members of the Striking Strings Hammered Dulcimer Ensemble from the University of Rochester’s Eastman Community Music School.

Each year, Artswego highlights a Central New York performing organization along with its slate of touring artists.

This season’s regional partnership is with the accomplished Syracuse Vocal Ensemble. On Oct. 20, at 3 p.m. in Sheldon Hall ballroom, Artswego will host the SVE’s fall program “Classical Meets Bluegrass,” including Appalachian-inspired choral music and composer Carol Barnett’s “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass,” joined by a band of regional bluegrass headliners.

The films of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu were featured this summer in a major retrospective at New York City’s Film Forum. On Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Waterman Theater, Windham Hill recording artist Alex de Grassi will provide live accompaniment for Ozu’s silent classic, “A Story of Floating Weeds” – performing an original score commissioned by the New York Guitar Society.

While productions of “A Christmas Carol” abound, actor Carl Whidden provides a different twist on Dickens. On Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Hewitt Union ballroom, the SUNY Oswego alum reprises the role of Scrooge that he played 40 years ago under the direction of the late SUNY Oswego professor Rosemary Nesbitt, a local theater and history legend.

This time, Whidden plays the other roles as well. One actor performs the holiday tale from end to end to celebrate Nesbitt’s memorable holiday productions.

The New York Times says, “The Acting Company endures as the major touring classical theater company in the United States.” In its 41st season, it has nurtured such talents as Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone and Rainn Wilson.

Featured in the current PBS documentary “Still on the Road,” the present-day band of young professional players arrives at Waterman Theater March 26 and 27 to attempt a rare feat: back-to-back performances of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and its comic counterpart, Sir Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. each night.

Kaki King has been named to Rolling Stone’s list of “The New Guitar Gods.” On March 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Waterman Theater, the hard-driving young instrumentalist joins forces with the contemporary string quartet ETHEL. In a genre-bending collaboration called “And Other Stories …,” they bring an evening of instrumental skill, rich sonic adventures and flights of fantastic storytelling.

Tickets are also available at any SUNY Oswego box office location, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 312-2141.

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