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'Music Beyond Borders' on Nov. 16 combines multicultural performances with multimedia storytelling

November 07, 2011

Jill Ouikahilo
(315) 443-8568

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, be a part of “Music Beyond Borders,” an event designed to illustrate the intercultural connectedness of music by using video narratives that weave together the cultural, social and historical contexts of the live performances. It is part of Syracuse University's celebration of International Education Week, and will take place at Hendricks Chapel from 6-8:30 p.m. It promises to be a culturally rich performance of artistically talented students and community members from all over the world, with an infusion of multimedia elements. Admission to the performance is free, as is parking on campus; patrons should mention that they are attending the “Music Beyond Borders” event. The event is open to the public and a full reception with an international buffet will follow in the Noble Room.

iew“We are so fortunate to have such rich talent on campus and in the city,” says Elane Granger, associate director for student services for the Slutzker Center for International Services. “Performers are working together to create a whole fabric of brilliant, musical colors and a unique experience for everyone. This is a truly inclusive event and a reminder to all of our domestic students that they are international, too.”

SU students and staff will be performing a variety of disciplines, including dance in African, Indian, Afghan and Turkish forms, as well as Korean drumming, instrumental music, singing and poetry. Local artists from the Syracuse refugee community will be sharing their talents as well, with traditional Bhutanese dancing and Congolese poetry.

“Music and dance are universally understood and can connect people from all over the world without need for translation,” says Kate Holmes, volunteer coordinator for Catholic Charities. “Refugees who resettle in Syracuse bring with them a great tapestry of traditions, often in the form of storytelling, music and dance. They are eager to share those traditions with their new friends and neighbors in Syracuse.”

“Music Beyond Borders” is the fruition of a collaborative vision led by SU campus and community partners, including the Slutzker Center for International Services in the Division of Student Affairs, the Department of Art and Music Histories in The College of Arts and Sciences and the International Center of Syracuse. Additional partners and supporters of the event include the Pulse Performing Arts Series, Fulbright Association (CNY Chapter), Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society, St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Medley magazine and La Casita.

Historically, during International Education Week, Granger has coordinated a festival that celebrated multicultural diversity in the art forms of music, dance and poetry. New to this year’s festival, “Music Beyond Borders,” is the inclusion of two artists-in-residence from the local, professional arts community: Biboti Ouikahilo, master African dancer, drummer and choreographer; and Jesus Rolon, musical director, teacher, performer and SU alumnus. Rolon is working in residency as the musical director of the show, rehearsing community and campus performers together. Since Oct. 4, Ouikahilo has been teaching a six-week African dance residency with SU students that will culminate with the students performing in the show.

“I feel like we are getting the real thing because Biboti is directly from there (Africa),” says Charity Ntansah, sophomore public health/pre-med major in the David B. Falk College of
Sport and Human Dynamics and participant in the residency. “He not only teaches us the dance steps, but he shares the culture and reasoning behind the steps. It makes the dancing more meaningful because we aren’t just dancing for show. We’re dancing to express our joy like how the African villagers would dance.”

In addition to the residencies, the festival includes an academic exploration that communicates the shared traditions and experiences of the music in the video narratives, which is facilitated by Carol Babiracki, associate professor of ethnomusicology in the Department of Art and Music Histories. The video documentation is produced by Kyle Corea ’06, co-founder of Funk n’ Waffles and co-owner of Romura Films.

"'Music Beyond Borders' is about musical collaboration between American and international students, across language and cultural boundaries, and between the University and the greater Syracuse community,” says Babiracki. “It is about recognizing and celebrating our shared musicality, beyond what might otherwise divide us. For me, this is among higher education’s most noble goals."

For more information on “Music Beyond Borders,” contact Elane Granger at

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