Road Stories Blog

Arriving in Charleston, IL

Qawwali music demonstration

By Muhammad Najmuddin

Muhammad Najmuddin is the leader of Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers. He shared these thoughts from the road as the ensemble continued its tour from Red Oak, Iowa to Charleston, Illinois.

On Sunday, October 21, Shigeyo—our tour manager—drove us on a very long drive of almost 465 miles to reach Charleston, Illinois. Here Mr.

Music as a universal language

Students in audience and on stage with the ensemble

By Muhammad Najmuddin

Muhammad Najmuddin is the leader of Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers. He shared these thoughts from the road after the first week and a half of the group’s tour in Iowa.

In the first formal meeting of our group and Arts Midwest representatives Mr. Kenneth Carlson and Ms. Shigeyo Henriquez, we were briefed about the whole project called Arts Midwest World Fest, which connects small and mid-sized Midwestern communities to world cultures through week-long residencies with global performers.

Qawwali singing in Red Oak

Group photo in formal attire

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The day of the concert in Red Oak, Iowa, was incredibly beautiful, sunny, and warm. It’s hard to believe that it’s the end of October!

The ensemble was dressed in their performance attire and ready to head out to the Wilson Arts Center, and when we stepped outside, the sun was about to set.

This color of sunset—warm and friendly—was like the hearts of the people of Red Oak.

Çudamani in Wausau, WI

Gamelan workshop in a high school music class

By Philip Graulty

The fourth week of Çudamani’s World Fest tour brought us to Wausau, Wisconsin. As we drove through the gorgeous country of Minnesota, it struck us that Wausau would be the final stop of this tour, and our visit to the Midwest would soon be over.

Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers in Red Oak, IA

Drum demonstration

After taking a few days to rest and rehearse after their long voyage to the United States, Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers kicked off their tour with workshops for both elementary and college students hosted by Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

The group then traveled to Red Oak, Iowa, where they received warm greetings and led a week full of incredible connections. Photos from their residency are below.

Çudamani in Detroit Lakes, MN

Fishing on a lake pier

By Philip Graulty

The third week of Çudamani’s Arts Midwest World Fest tour brought us to the city of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Coming from a country of 17,000 islands, it is no surprise that Çudamani felt right at home in “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” While the nearby lake provided us with daily catches of fish and beautiful sunsets, it was the warm generosity of the local community that made this visit so memorable.

A festive time in Devils Lake, ND

Marching in the homecoming parade

By Philip Graulty

The second week of Çudamani’s Arts Midwest World Fest tour brought us to Devils Lake, North Dakota. On route to Devils Lake, we stopped off in the small town of Leeds, ND to perform a workshop for an eager group of K-12 students. As I walked through the door, I was stopped by a young child who asked, “Are you here for the demonstration?” When I replied yes, the student exclaimed, “Yay! I am so excited to meet Çudamani!” This student’s sentiment would be echoed in every school we visited.

Welcome Çudamani!

Company members rehearse a dance

By Arts Midwest

We are excited to welcome Çudamani to the Midwest as they kick off their first Arts Midwest World Fest tour!

The ensemble members spent their first few days in Hill City, SD, resting from the long travel and rehearsing. They also met many friendly residents, explored the beauty of the Black Hills area, and went fishing in the winding Castle Creek.

The group began its tour with workshops in the Hill City schools, where the students were incredibly kind and responsive. The ensemble also hosted workshops at STAR Academy for Youth, a juvenile corrections facility.

A look back at this year's tours

School workshop with Tarim

By Arts Midwest

In our first year of Arts Midwest World Fest 2011-2013, we’ve been thrilled to partner with such wonderful global musicians, and equally wonderful Midwestern communities. Egypt’s Wust el Balad, Israel’s Yamma Ensemble, and China’s Tarim have had great effects on the communities they visited in the fall and spring.

Yamma Ensemble in Hill City, SD

Band members interacting with students

By Eric Young Smith

The week in Devils Lake was packed so full that it seemed over before we were ready to say goodbye. Every day was filled with countless adventures that bred new friendships through the great hospitality of the Devils Lake community. Before I realized our stay was over, we were packing our belongings for the trek to Hill City.

When plotting our course, we realized our time on the road to Hill City would be long. We decided to saddle-up and leave early in order to have a relaxed time and afford ourselves a few stops along the way.