March 15, 2009
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Jal leads Kaleidoscope offerings
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The Slippery Rock University community will be filled with rich and diverse artists, including former child soldier and hip-hop sensation Emmanuel Jal, who performed at Live Aid 8 and Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday party, during SRU's April 15-26 Kaleidoscope arts festival.
Children's Day April 18 will offer Two of a Kind, a singing duo known for interactive performances of folk music, and a colorful swath of other activities. "Kaleidoscope on Main," featuring bands and local art vendors, is April 25.
"Kaleidoscope has something for everyone, including internationally known speakers and performers such the Jal, the Taiko Drummers and Two of a Kind," said Nora Ambrosio, professor of dance and festival director. "Our own local talent - students - will perform, along with the YouTube sensation The Pop Rocks. We wanted to bring in performers who could present the arts in ways that are accessible to both seasoned concert-goers as well as first-time audience members."
Parking is free, as are many of the events, including an April 20 monologue provoking the spirit and words of author Henry David Thoreau. Other festival highlights include student theatre, dance and musical performances.
Jal, a former child soldier in Sudan, will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 23 in the University Union. He will give a lecture on his inspiring life, then sing to highlight his message of peace and reconciliation. His music can be heard in the recent movie "Blood Diamond" and "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur."
"When I saw the documentary that was created about Jal's life called 'War Child,' which won a Tribecca Film Festival Award, I was deeply moved by his story," Ambrosio said. "I knew we had to bring him to Slippery Rock University."
Jal, who was born in Sudan but doesn't know the exact year, was taken from his family's home in 1987 and sent to fight with the rebel army in Sudan's bloody civil war. For near five years, he was a child soldier, carrying an AK-47. By the time he was 13, he was a veteran of two civil wars.
After a series of harrowing events, a British aid worker smuggled Jal into Nairobi to raise him as her own son. Jal started singing to ease his emotional pain. He released his first album in 2005, called "Gua," which means "peace" in his native Nuer language.
Jal has shared the stage with contemporary pop singers Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox and Damien Marley.
Children's Day is the signature Kaleidoscope event for youngsters. Two of a Kind, led by David and Jenny Heitler-Klevans, will present a concert with songs, puppets, movement and stories. Themes for songs range include reading, friendship, animals and environmental awareness. The husband-and-wife team has released eight recordings and won 12 national awards, including the Parents' Choice and a Kids Radio Mania Award. "I Have Two Stomachs" won the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. The duo, which has performed across the U.S., has shared the stage with folk legends Pete Seeger, John McCutcheon and Peter, Paul and Mary.
Two of a Kind will perform at 1 p.m. April 18 outside of SRU's Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center.
In a return engagement to Kaleidoscope, the Taiko Drummers will electrify audiences with their dynamic drumming and movement. The seasoned performers of several types of traditional Japanese music will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 22 in Swope Music Hall.
SRU's theatre department will present the jolting drama "Hedda Gabler" by Henrik Ibsen. The play tells the story of a Norwegian woman who lashes out in frustration against the limitations of 19th century Norwegian society. The production will run April 15-18, with an April 19 matinee.
"Kaleidoscope on Main," from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 25, will feature the bands Lonesome No More Band, Between Liberties, Panama Red and the SRU Jazz Combos. The downtown event will include an artist market, plant sales, T-shirt making, stuff your own bear exhibits and a chicken barbeque.
SRU's College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts launched Kaleidoscope in 2002 to bring greater awareness and appreciation of the arts to campus and the wider community.
Kaleidoscope sponsors include Slippery Rock University, its College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts and Armstrong Cable, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Council, the SRU Foundation Inc. and the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau. For the complete schedule of events and ticket information, click on http://kaleidoscope.sru.edu/.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.