On Saturday, September 18, Boston University’s Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology and the BU Arts Initiative hosted their annual Global Music Festival. The event featured international musical and educational events – such as lectures, panel discussions, and workshops – which are free and open to the public. The festival stands out from other global music festivals of the genre due to its impressive accessibility.
Those who passed Boston University Beach on festival day likely heard the magnetic echoes of the music played throughout the day. A variety of performers took to the outdoor stage to perform in front of an audience of Boston University affiliates and members of the Boston community of all ages. Performers included Combo Chimbita, Eastern Medicine Singers, Gund Kwok, Veronica Robles Mariachi Quartet, Alsarah & the Nubatones, La Pelanga, Riyaaz Qawwali, Zili Misik. The festival featured a balance of local and international musicians, with the aim of raising marginalized voices.
âWe have always tried to bring in indigenous voices, to try to emphasize the voices of women because most music festivals tend to lack these performances,â said MariÃ© Abe, associate professor at ethnomusicology at Boston University, musician with Ethiopian groove based in Boston. collective, Debo Band, and artistic director of the festival.
Abe has been with Boston University for eleven years; he is one of the university’s first ethnomusicologists and is the founder of the Global Music Festival.
âWhen I got here, all of the music programming was western art music,â said Abe. She felt that there was a need for more opportunities to experience more diverse music, so she decided to create this space. âSo I started once a semester, lunchtime concerts, on a small scale, knocked on doors, you know, raising small funds, so it started very small. “
The music presented by the festival shares the art and history of communities around the world and also connects audiences to current events.
âPeople may feel a little closer to the places or issues they hear about, but may not have the human connections. So, you know, when I see audience members talking to artists to find out more about these issues, you know, it’s significant, âsaid Abe.
The festival has been held annually since Abe created it together with producer Ty A. Furman in 2018. Furman is the Managing Director of the Arts Initiative BU and has produced the concert every year since. He is especially proud of the way the festival intentionally welcomes the large Boston community.
âWhat I like best about the festival is the intergenerational audience. So as you’ve probably seen, all the kids dancing, people bring their families, their kids, âFurman said.
Among the Boston University students in attendance was freshman Shasta Narayanan, who explained why he thinks events like the Global Music Festival are important.
âDiversity is very important. So I feel like events like these where it really opens our minds to love different cultures, different aspects of expression across the world to see … the different, I guess the arts, the different music , different cultures around the world, âsaid Narayanan.
The BU Global Music Festival takes place annually and is a great resource for the large Boston community to connect with music from around the world.