The concert, one of six 2014-15 programs presented in alternate campus and community locations during the renovation of Tyler Hall, will feature a repertoire ranging from familiar spirituals to traditional African songs.
The ensemble of 15 singers and four traditional drummers is on a tour of the United States that is taking them to concert halls and campuses from coast to coast. The performance at St. Mary's will allow audience members to experience the group without theatrical staging, much as their music is heard weekly in their home city of Dakar in West Africa.
Founded by the late Julien Jouga, whose honors included designation as a UNESCO Ambassador Artist for Peace, the ensemble reflects the commitment to religious diversity enshrined in the Senegalese constitution. While the singers are drawn from Senegal's Roman Catholic minority, the accompanying drummers represent the country's majority Muslim population. Likewise, Jouga's compositions draw on the many different musical traditions of his homeland.
"In a time when divisive rhetoric often prevails, these performers affirm our common humanity through music," said John Shaffer, director of arts programming for SUNY Oswego.
The ensemble will perform selections that range from traditional African folk songs to the masses composed by Jouga. For their American tour, the choir has added renditions of several familiar spirituals. Languages in the program include those of various Senegalese ethnic groups, including Wolof, Diola, Serere and Portuguese Creole.
Opening for the visiting choir are the Oswego State Singers, directed by Dr. Mihoko Tsutsumi. For the occasion, the select chorus has prepared two African songs. Following the concert, a meal of Senegalese foods will be served to the performers by the college's African Student Organization.
Tickets to the Senegal St. Joseph Choir are $15 ($5 for students), available in advance at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu and by calling 315-312-2141. Tickets at the door will be cash only.
For more information about this and other SUNY Oswego fine arts programs, visit oswego.edu/arts.