Festival enthusiasts gathered Tuesday night in the Monroe Public County Library Auditorium to hear David McDonald, associate professor of folklore and ethnomusicology, speak about the talent and diversity of the artists who will appear in the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival.
McDonald said he had been unfamiliar with the festival before moving to Bloomington.
“One day I left work and noticed the streets were overcome with people running around, and it was a revelation,” he said. “Since that time, Lotus has been my absolutely favorite event of the year.”
Because McDonald said it would be impossible to talk about all 33 artists who will be performing in the festival, he had to choose which artists to discuss.
McDonald said he wanted to focus the preview on some of the less-obvious musical groups that will be performing.
“I want to kind of dig out and talk about the groups that might be new to our community and might present interesting collaborations for us to talk about,” he said. “A lot of the artists that we’re talking about they’re coming here and they’re displaying their roots, their traditional roots, and what I mean by tradition is the kind of practices they draw from the past in order to create a desired future.”
One such artist mentioned by McDonald was A-Wa, a group of three Israeli women.
“I am also excited about our performer from the Canary Islands and Mokoomba the group from Zimbabwe, Germán Lopéz,” festival Executive Director Sunni Fass said. “Those are sort of my top picks to the extent I get to hear actual music at the festival.”
Fass said she gets to hear more music towards the end of Lotus.
“That’s usually when all of the many crises and fires to put out are done and I get to actually get to turn off my walkie-talkie and go listen and enjoy some music for awhile,” she said.
Fass, alumna of the Department of Ethnomusicology, said this is the second year she organized a preview for the festival.
“When I became the director I was really trying to reach back out to that department and its always had very strong connections with Lotus and we try to build on those,” she said. “Some of the things that fascinated me as a student I think would be great for our audiences to hear.”
McDonald said the artists featured in the festival needed to be appealing to a Midwestern cosmopolitan audience.
“And for that reason you find a lot of the same types of musical structures whether that band is from Zimbabwe or Colombia or anywhere else,” he said. “Especially on the main stages you find that spectacular notion of global pop.”
McDonald said he knows he won’t be able to see all of the bands he would like to during the festival.
“It’s kind of a Zen atmosphere, and you take what you can get,” he said. “You can’t see them all.”