Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Oswego Reading Initiative chooses book for its ‘summer read’

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

The Oswego Reading Initiative at SUNY Oswego has chosen 2012 National Book Award-winning “The Round House” — Louise Erdrich’s “haunting, powerful” novel about a Native American boy’s search for justice for his mother — as this year’s summer read for the incoming class and the rest of campus and community members who wish to participate.

“Using the quiet, reflective voice of a young boy forced into an early adulthood following a brutal assault on his mother, Erdrich has created an intricately layered novel that not only untangles our nation’s history of moral and judicial failure, but also offers a portrait of a community sustained by its traditions, values, faith and stories,” the award citation reads.

This is ORI’s 13th annual book selection, among them last year’s “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.” To accompany the selection, faculty are encouraged to integrate the book into the curriculum and a series of programs, including cultural events and talks, are planned to facilitate discussion and involvement around the title.

SUNY Oswego anthropology faculty member Kevin White, who specializes in American studies and has familial ties to the Mohawks, expressed excitement with the choice.

“With a gripping narrative, Erdrich crafts a story filled with human emotion, legal questions and violence against Native American women in a coming-of age-story with all too common repercussions and outcomes among native women and communities,” White said.

“Far too often these issues are not known to the American public, and Native American women, families and communities must deal with these issues as best as they can,” he said.

Search for justice

ORI rarely chooses so-called coming-of-age books, because first-year college students often have read them already, said Associate Provost Rameen Mohammadi, chair of the committee.

Yet “The Round House” is far more nuanced than many others and illuminates Ojibwe life and longstanding Native American concerns, among them jurisdictional issues that most Americans rarely hear about and don’t understand, he said.

The committee “goes through a pretty rigorous process,” Mohammadi said. “We survey the campus and do a lot of reading and discussing. As we’ve done in the past, the committee believes this book has enough connections to the curriculum that many faculty would feel comfortable bringing it in to their plans.”

He called the New York Times bestseller — which some reviewers called “a Native American ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’” — fascinating and revealing of what life would be like on a reservation, in this case an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota.

The novel recounts the story of 13-year-old Joe, who grows frustrated with the official investigation of the beating and rape of his mother, Geraldine Coutts, who was left traumatized and reluctant to relive what happened.

Joe sets out to find answers on his own, with his friends Cappy, Zack and Angus.

Mohammadi said the book’s twists, intrigue and unique voice should hold readers to the end, ready to discuss the text in classes and events. He said the committee reached out to Erdrich, but learned that the novelist is not traveling and does not plan to appear on campus as some past ORI authors have done.

Erdrich, whose heritage is Ojibwe as a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa, has written 14 novels, including the bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist “The Plague of Doves,” as well as volumes of poetry and short stories and a memoir of early motherhood.

Some of her other novels from Harper Collins are “The Bingo Palace,” “The Beet Queen” and “Four Souls.”

‘Rigoletto — the Oswego Story’ comes to the stage Feb. 21 and 23

Oswego Opera Theatre’s reimagined “Rigoletto,” Feb. 21 and 23 at SUNY Oswego’s Waterman Theatre, shows the many ties of college and community, from plot to people.

“Rigoletto — The Oswego Story,” a rewrite of Verdi’s classic opera by SUNY Oswego adjunct instructor Mack Richardson of the music department, will take the Tyler Hall stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23.

“I was inspired by two things,” said Richardson, artistic director and conductor of Oswego Opera Theatre since 2008.

“First, I was interested in how the Metropolitan Opera reset ‘Rigoletto’ in Las Vegas in the 1960s. I like how it worked — they updated it quite reasonably. Of course, it takes on timeless ideas,” he said.

“And I wanted to try an audience-building marketing idea. Apparently, it has worked because it’s gotten a lot of attention,” he said.

Rather than the original Mantua, Italy, Richardson sets his adaptation of Giuseppe Verdi’s 1851 opera “Rigoletto” in 1920s Oswego, where workarounds to Prohibition are in full bloom and the womanizing Duke of Mantua becomes Duke, the womanizing and personally and politically connected owner of a speakeasy.

In this reimagining, Duke pretends to be a SUNY Oswego college student to woo love interests on campus.

‘Great fun’

While Duke (Jonathan Howell) headlines at his own club, Verdi’s tragic court jester becomes, in the adaptation, Rigoletto the Don Rickles-like comic (Jimi James), hated by everyone for his vicious insult-jokes.

While sung in Italian, the opera will offer a projected image of Richardson’s translation of the lyrics to English. The orchestra features members of Syracuse’s Symphoria.

Richardson said stage director Fred Willard and the cast have embraced the remake of “Rigoletto,” which began life in the mid-19th century as an initially censored and then wildly popular opera.

“Fred very willingly agreed to take on the idea and is having great fun with it,” said Richardson, who is teaching “Introduction to the Worlds of Music” and “The Business of Music” at the college this semester.

Richardson said he came up with the idea for the “Rigoletto” adaptation about a year ago, but has been familiar with the opera since high school.

With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and master’s in orchestral conducting and arts administration from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, he has led productions of Mozart’s “The Impresario,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore,” Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” and “Carousel,” among others.

As with many community productions, town and gown members work together in the cast and crew.

Jonathan Powers, a recent SUNY Oswego graduate, will sing the part of Ceprano, one of the men loyal to Duke. Oswego graduate Dan Williams will serve as chorus director.

Suzayn MacKenzie-Roy, an alumna who is facilities manager for Waterman Theatre, will deploy the crew for “Rigoletto — The Oswego Story,” Richardson said.

Other key roles include Gilda (Tatiana Poletskaya) and Maddalena (Danan Tsan).

Tickets for “Rigoletto — The Oswego Story” are $25 ($20 for educators and for seniors over 60; $5 for students) and are available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 312-2141.

Parking for these performances is included in the ticket price, and is available in the lot in front of Culkin Hall, the rear half of the lot behind Hart and Funnelle halls or in the adjacent commuter lot.

Patrons with disabilities should call 312-2141 for assistance in advance of the performances.

Oswego County organizations receive CNY Arts Decentralization Awards

A number of Oswego County organizations are receiving 2014 CNY Arts Decentralization Awards.

The awards are given through the New York State Council on the Arts to to help localities support their own funding for arts events and programs.

Community Arts Grants partially fund community-based arts projects featuring dance, theater, film, music, and folk, literary, digital and visual arts.

Those receiving awards are:

Art Association of Oswego Inc., $1,700, Outreach Program

ARTSwego (through the Oswego College Foundation), $2,100, The Acting Coming: Coming to a Theater in Your Community

Cleveland Historical Society, $2,400, Children’s Glassworks Theatre

The Children’s Museum of Oswego, $710, Bash the Trash Environmental Arts Concert

Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, $1,400, Nature Inspires

Fulton Community Theatre, $1,900, for 2014 season

Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, $2,300, 014 Fulton Jazz Festival

H. Lee White Marine Museum, $2,700, War of 1812 — The Great Rope Play

Oswego Players Inc., $2,391, Gypsy

Pulaski Congregational Church, $2,200, Rhea LaVeck Memorial Concert Series

Salmon River Fine Arts Center, $2,460, Drawing Families into Art

Town of Schroeppel, $1,180, Music in the Park

Village of Lacona, $510, Lacona Music at the Market Concert Series

Village of Phoenix, $1,000, Friday Nights of Fun Concert Series

 

Young performers take the stage at CNY Arts Center

CNY Arts Center ushers in National Arts Education Month with a Showcase of Young Performers at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at The Arts Center, 357 State St. in Fulton.

With a generous grant from the Shineman Foundation, CNY Arts Center will spotlight several talented young people making their marks in the performing arts.

“Our Young Performers evening is a perfect tie-in to this very important month for the arts,” said Director Nancy Fox. “These are young people with exceptional gifts ready to share their gifts with an audience. They each have high ambitions. It takes a lot of courage to perform before an audience at so young an age.”

“At CNY Arts Center we know the arts are critical for children,” Fox said. “We work hard to provide a performing arts program for children of all ages and skill levels. This national acknowledgement of the crucial role the arts play in our children’s education is the right time to introduce these young people to an appreciate audience.”

March is an annual observance of the arts for children in schools and communities across the country through national initiatives such as Art is Education, Music in Our Schools, Theatre in our Schools, Art in our Schools and Youth Art Month.

Advocating for the value of an arts education to improve academic achievement, develop imaginations,  inspire creativity, and prepare students for careers in a constantly changing world, Arts Education Month brings much needed awareness.

The focus helps to validate funding and motivates community participation.

Ranging in age from 11 to 16, an evening of talent and entertainment will run for this one performance only. Three of the young performers, Matthew Oldenburg, Kaylee Foster and Rhiannon Ellison, debuted at CNY Arts Center’s Gifts of the Season in December.

The trio will be joined by veteran singer/dancer/actress Taylor Hamer along with a featured number from the cast of Willy Wonka, Jr.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information visit www.CNYArtsCenter.com or call 592-3373.

Oswego Players present ‘The Dining Room’

Oswego Players are presenting the play “The Dining Room” at 8 p.m. Feb. 21, 22, 28 and March 1 at the Frances Marion Brown Theater at Fort Ontario Park.

During the play, attendees will enter the dining room, where three men and three  women portray 50-plus diverse characters as they delineate the dying lifestyle of wealthy WASPdom, and the now neglected room which was once a vital center of family life.

Sound simple? Think again!

As comic sketch crazily succeeds comic sketch, a whole pattern of American life emerges.

“This is an actors show”, says director Bobby Fontana. While a typical show requires an actor to focus and embrace one particular character, this show requires the actor to continually change identities through accent, expression and physicality from the moment the curtain is raised!

You won’t find an elaborate set, exquisite costumes or mind blowing props… but you will experience six stellar actors who deliver a myriad of characters ranging from little boys to stern grandfathers, and from giggling teenage girls to southern housemaids.

Each vignette introduces a new set of people and events all intertwined to the plays main theme… an in-depth portrait of a vanishing species: the upper-middle-class WASP!

Come see the “sensational six” as Fontana coined them for one of their five performances.

The cast includes Brian Pringle, Knate MacKensie Roy, Matthew Gordon, Stephanie Johnson, Banna Rubinow and Tammy Wilkinson.

Log on to the players website www.oswegoplayers.org or call the box office at 343.5138 for more information.

The Oswego Players – 76 years and still entertaining!

Oswego musician performs at Coffee Connection March 1

Folk musician and nationally award-winning songwriter Gina Holsopple is performing at the Coffee Connection at 8 p.m. March 1.

Holsopple has been performing across the country with her partner, Matthew Wood, for more than 10 years. She released her eighth album, “RED,” last summer as well as her first ever music video featuring the song “It’s Good,” which can be found on YouTube.

In addition to performing across the country, Holsopple is highly involved in the local music community.

This includes regularly participating in the Oswego Music Hall Open Mic Nights and recently joining the Oswego Music Hall board as an executive committee member, teaching beginning guitar, voice, violin and piano lessons, directing the music for the CNY Arts performance of Willy Wonka Jr. this spring, and organizing the Wooden-Apple Farmstead Labor Day Music and Arts Festival.

Holsopple performs with her guitar, her violin and most importantly her voice.  She delights audiences with her “meandering melodies and winsome voice” that are “sure to make your foot tap, head bob, and lips open wide with a smile.”

“Gina is a traveler and her music takes on the traveler’s air. The light footed and swift-paced mentality resonates in the songs, which are just as well sung in the concert hall as on the trail.” (Brad Crescenzo-MuzikReviews.com Contributor)

This show also will be streamed live online at http://www.concertwindow.com/shows/3350-gina-holsopple.

More information about Holsopple and her music can be found online at www.ginaholsopple.com.

Oswego State Downtown exhibits photos by Baldwinsville resident

Oswego State Downtown will open an exhibition Saturday, Feb. 15, of photographs by Baldwinsville artist Jeanne C. Lagergren.

“The Nature of Things” exhibition will feature a free public artist’s reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 15 at the downtown branch of the College Store and gallery, corner of West First and Bridge streets in Oswego.

The display will run through March 22.

“My love of nature came from growing up on Long Island’s Great South Bay,” said Lagergren, a watercolorist and photographer who has a collection of 132 cameras, including her mother’s, father’s and her own first cameras.

“Picture postcard vistas of water, sand dunes and glorious sunsets were a creative inspiration for me,” she said. “Using my camera for taking reference photos for my watercolor paintings, the balance shifted from brushes and paint to camera and film.”

During a 38-year career in the graphic arts with Carrier Corp., her own company Checker Graphics and Xerox Corp., Lagergren often has entered photographs and watercolors in “On My Own Time” shows, and six of her works have been selected for display at the Everson Museum of Art.

She twice won “People’s Choice” awards in the competition. Her paintings and photography also have appeared at the New York State Fair, Liverpool and Mundy branches of Onondaga County Public Library, Altered Spaces and Sparky Town restaurant.

“The digital era came, my love for photography grew, and wanting to learn more I joined the Syracuse Camera Club in 2011,” Lagergren said. “Viewing the work of its talented members has been both an educational and rewarding experience.”

Among other awards, the club honored Lagergren in 2012-13 with a first-place Print Merit Award and a first-place Digital Merit Award, both in the entry-level division, and a second- and third-place award for Print of the Year.

She also received a “Feminist in the Graphic Arts” award from the Central New York chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Oswego State Downtown is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information about this and other SUNY Oswego art exhibitions, contact Tyler Art Gallery at 312-2113.

Got a summer event? Contact the Oswego County Tourism Office

Organizations, businesses and groups have until Feb. 19 to submit information for the Oswego County Tourism Office’s 2014 “Summer in Oswego County” brochure.

Events that take place between April and October will be posted on the county tourism Web site and listed in the calendar, which is widely distributed at travel and vacation shows, chambers of commerce, NYS Thruway information centers, businesses and other outlets.

“The brochure typically includes more than 200 events as well as information on fishing tournaments, farm markets, outdoor concerts, and other summer activities,” said David Turner, director of the Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

People can fill out a form online and submit it directly to the Tourism Office at http://visitoswegocounty.com/more-to-see-do/calendar/events-in-oswego-county-entry-form/.

Forms have been sent to those who have submitted information in the past.

For more information, contact the Oswego County Tourism Office weekdays at 349-8322 or (800) 596-3200, ext. 8322, or e-mail fobrien@oswegocounty.com.