The Concert for Coexistence will bring together a Jewish and African jazz group, as well as Christian and Muslim hip-hop artists to promote tolerance and coexistence on April 4, 2009.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—On Saturday, April 4, Vassar College will host the “Concert for CoexistenceDrop the Difference and Jam!” Free and open to the public, the concert will begin at 8:30pm (doors open at 8pm) on the second floor of the Students’ Building.

The event will bring together The Afro Semitic Experience (a Jewish and African jazz group), Agapé (a Christian hip-hop artist), and Abu Nurah (a Muslim hip-hop artist) to promote tolerance and coexistence. It is the organizing committee’s hope that the concert will spark dialogue among diverse parts of the student body- religious, secular and everything in between- about religious pluralism. The music will provide a communal space and starting point to explore the beliefs and practices of the three Abrahamic traditions.

Isma Aslam, one of the students who has helped to organize the concert as part of his year-long fellowship with the Chicago-based organization, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), advised, "I love music and I love interfaith work, so I thought it would be really awesome to use one passion of mine to facilitate another with this program."

The Afro-Semitic Experience is a band of African-American and Jewish-American musicians who are dedicated to preserving, promoting and expanding the rich cultural and musical heritage of the Jewish and African Diasporas. They present interpretations of music from the rich traditions of both cultures: Gospel, Klezmer, Nigunim, Spirituals, Bebop, and Swing. In performance they frame the music, by telling stories about what the pieces mean, how they relate to us as individual members of the community, and how they reflect upon the relations between African-Americans and Jews.

Agapé (Dave Scherer) reaches the young people of today through Rhythmic American Poetry (rap). He combines dancing, rapping, storytelling and fluency in Spanish to captivate his audience and challenge them to explore their faith in God. With his passion for diversity, he invites people to bridge the gaps that exist in today's society. He has produced two CDs and travels across the country with his ministry, “Hip Hop Outreach.”

Abu Nurah, who grew up in Los Angeles' notorious Pico-Union neighborhood, had, from an early age, a strong connection to hip-hop culture, twice winning his school's annual break-dancing competition. He went on to study at Harvard, where he received the David McCord prize for excellence in the arts as well as the Henry Russell Shaw Fellowship. His music has been featured on Democracy Now's War & Peace Report. His debut album is titled Don't be a Citizen.

The program is sponsored by the Vassar Jewish Union, Vassar Catholic Community, ViCE, African Students Union, Episcopal Church at Vassar College, Black Students Union, Vassar Christian Fellowship, Vassar Islamic Society, Vassar Pagan Circle, Office of the President, Office of the Dean of the College, Office of the Dean of Students, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Field Work Office, Residential Life, ALANA Center/Office of Campus Life; Departments of Urban Studies, Religion, Jewish Studies, Education, Hispanic Studies, English, Philosophy, French, Africana Studies, History, and Political Science; and the Interfaith Youth Core.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, March 31, 2009