Boston University Global Music Festival: Connecting Communities Through Music | Arts


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 music and educational events – such as lectures, panel discussions, and workshops – that are free and public. The festival stands out from other global music festivals of its kind due to its impressive accessibility.

Those walking past Boston University Beach on the day of the festival likely heard the magnetic echoes of the music that was playing throughout the day. A variety of artists took to the outdoor stage to perform in front of an audience comprised of members of Boston University and members of the Boston community of all ages. Performers were Combo Chimbita, Eastern Medicine Singers, Gund Kwok, Veronica Robles Mariachi Quartet, Alsarah & the Nubatones, La Pelanga, Riyaaz Qawwali, Zili Misik. The festival presented a balanced ratio of local and international musicians with the aim of raising marginalized voices.

“We have always tried to bring in indigenous voices to highlight the voices of women because most music festivals tend to miss these representations,” said Marié Abe, associate professor of ethnomusicology at Boston University, the musician of the Boston-based Ethiopian Grooves performing collective , Debo Band and artistic director of the festival.

Abe has been a member of Boston University for eleven years; he is one of the university’s first ethnomusicologists and founder of the Global Music Festival.

“When I came here, the entire musical program was western art music,” Abe said. She felt that there were more opportunities to experience more diverse music, so she set about creating this space. “So I started once a semester, lunchtime concerts, small, knocked on doors, you know, collected small funds, so it started very small.”

The music presented by the festival conveys the art and history of communities around the world and also connects audiences with current events.

“People may feel a little closer to the places or topics they are hearing about, but they may not have the human connections. You know, when I see viewers talking to the artists to find out more about these issues, it makes a lot of sense, ”Abe said.

Since Abe launched it in collaboration with producer Ty A. Furman in 2018, the festival has been organized annually. Furman is the managing director of the BU Arts Initiative and has produced the concert every year since then. He is especially proud of the way the festival deliberately welcomes the greater Boston community.

“My favorite at the festival is the cross-generational audience. As you’ve probably seen, all of the dancing kids bring their families, their kids, ”Furman said.

Among the Boston University students in attendance was freshman Shasta Narayanan, who shared why he thinks events like the Global Music Festival are important.

“Diversity is very important. So I feel like events like this really open our minds to like different cultures, different aspects of the same expression around the world to see … ”Narayanan said.

The BU Global Music Festival is held every year and is a great resource for the Boston community to connect with music from around the world.

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