Road Stories Blog

Final week with the Qawal Brothers

School workshop at Stocker Arts Center.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Before our week started, Hurricane Sandy reached Lorain County and caused significant water damage to the Stocker Arts Center, where we spent the majority of our residency in Elyria, Ohio. Still, even while the entire Lorain County Community College was dealing with repairs, our programs continued to run as scheduled.

Qawwali singing is spiritual, transcendent, and very energetic, and you could see this from the students’ responses at our residencies. At Maple Intermediate School in North Olmsted, two girls couldn’t stop dancing.

A final week and farewells in Ohio

Group photo at the airport.

By Muhammad Najmuddin

On Monday, November 12, our work started for students and senior citizens in Elyria, Ohio. During this week we hosted many student concerts. On Thursday, November 16, we visited a school in Cleveland to start their International Cultural Celebration Day. The auditorium was filled with students, and the students and their teachers all enjoyed our performance and started singing and dancing with the rhythm of the songs.

On Friday, we went to the Islamic Center in Cleveland for our prayers. The center has a beautiful and graceful mosque and a community center with part-time school.

A memorable week in Wabash, IN

Call to prayer

By Shigeyo Henriquez

In the evening of Sunday, November 4, we arrived in Wabash, Indiana, and parked the bus in the front of the Charley Creek Inn, a beautifully restored world-class hotel and our home for the fourth week of the tour.

Meeting friends in Indiana

Children sitting with the musicians, clapping and singing

By Muhammad Najmuddin

From Saugatuck and Holland, Michigan, we traveled again to reach Wabash and Hartford City, Indiana. Just after reaching our destination, we had a welcome reception in Modoc’s Market, a restaurant in front of our hotel. There we talked with the week’s organizers and residents about our culture, traditions, and everyday life as well as about our music and the traditions it carries to us from our forefathers.

On the next day we did two workshops with students and thereafter went to Zion Lutheran Church for a mini-presentation followed by a reception. It was a very remarkable occasion for us.

Seeing friends again

Posing for a photo in matching tour t-shirts

By Lindajoy Fenley, Caravanserai Tour Manager

The last time I saw my friends from Karachi, Pakistan, I was in Rhode Island. Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers had just finished the first Caravanserai tour through New England and Montana in the fall of 2011. Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet is another Arts Midwest program bringing world-class musicians to American communities to enhance international understanding.

This November, I flew to Indiana to see them on their second U.S. tour.

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Reflecting on the week in Michigan

Giving a thumbs up for a delicious meal

By Muhammad Najmuddin

Another successful week ends in Saugatuck and Holland, Michigan. Throughout the week we had successful workshops, “informances,” and mini-concerts. All of them went well.

All the audiences—whether they were school kids, college students, teachers or senior citizens—enjoyed the songs.

Sharing harmony in Michigan

Workshop participants, a harmonium sits in the foreground

By Shigeyo Henriquez

At the start of our week in Saugatuck, Michigan, the volunteers from the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Phillip and Jackie, met us Monday morning, we all piled on the bus, and away we went.

Our week in the Saugatuck area started with a visit to a tiny school, Glenn Elementary School, with a total of 48 K-6 students. Children are so curious, and this group absorbed everything. They learned quickly and sang “Yaar Ko Humne Apney” as loudly as they could. It was a great way to start the day.

Then we went to Zeeland Christian School.

Learning through listening

Performing at the Interfaith Dialogue

By Muhammad Najmuddin

Our Charleston, Illinois visit was very successful. We had a large audience present at the Doudna Fine Arts Center. They enjoyed our songs very much and applauded us at the end. Thanks to Mr. Dan Crews who worked a lot to make this concert a successful event for all of us.

On Sunday we moved to Saugatuck, Michigan. Here, on Monday, we performed our first concert with a small number of students and the second one with about 250. Both were very responsive.

Celebrations on the road

People gathered around to get food from a table

By Muhammad Najmuddin

Muhammad Najmuddin is the leader of Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers. He shared these thoughts from the road after their celebrations of Eid-ul-Azha, also spelled Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday that commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God intervening at the last moment—a story shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Incredible connections in Charleston, IL

Performers singing with children all around

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We arrived in Charleston, Illinois on Sunday, October 23. We were all tired from the long drive from Red Oak, Iowa!

On Monday morning, we met with Dan Crews, the director of patron services for the Doudna Fine Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University, to discuss the schedule before the first university workshop with international study and music students.