Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

arts community events music

People of Lotus: Meet two performers of the 2022 music and arts festival


On Friday night at the 29th Annual Lotus Music and Arts Festival, attendees were greeted with rainy, autumnal weather. Echoes of music could be heard from the Sample Gates all the way to the courthouse in the heart of downtown Bloomington.  

A variety of people could be found throughout the streets of the college town, including — but not limited to — a master traditional Vietnamese musician and the ring leader of a Toronto-based band. 

Emmy award-winner Van-Ahn Vo smiles at the audience after her set Sept. 23, 2022, at Trinity Episcopal Church. Vo weaved her personal experiences into her music and told stories of her life in Vietnam between songs. Alayna Wilkening

Master traditional Vietnamese musician Van-Anh Vo  

As a San Francisco-based Vietnamese composer and master traditional musician, this is Van-Anh Vo’s second Lotus Festival. Vo tours and performs primarily with three instruments: the dan Tranh (zither), dan Bau (monochord) and dan T’rung (bamboo xylophone). 

“I came here eight years ago and this is the second time I have been at the festival,” Vo said. “I am invited to be back here, so definitely the festival’s organizer wanted to present something with more cultural diversity.”  

Her father was the reason Vo started to perform, she said. Originally from North Vietnam, her father had to either enlist in the army during the Vietnam War or defect. 

Related: [Lotus in the Meadow kicks off weekend of events]

“He didn’t like to hold guns to shoot people, so he signed up as a guitar player,” Vo said. “He played very terrible guitar at the time, but he got away. His risk was to rush into the battlefield right after the two sides stop shooting, and he had to play music to cheer up the soldiers.” 

Vo’s father witnessed his friend and fellow bandmate get fatally shot by a sniper during the war. After the war, Vo said her father learned music at the national conservatory. When she was 4 years old, her father began to teach her how to play. Vo has been playing the dan Tranh ever since she was 6 years old.  

Playing music has helped Vo express her emotions with people around the world from different cultures, she said. 

“It helps me to meet with new people,” Vo said. “It helped me to connect with different cultures, understand the differences and share the differences of our culture.” 

Like music has helped her to express emotions and connect with culture, Vo hopes that her audiences at the Lotus Festival are able to connect with Vietnamese traditional music and culture. 

“I hope that people can learn and take home a little bit about Vietnamese culture and the beauty we have, the traditional heritage we have,” Vo said. “Maybe one day they will come to visit Vietnam, and this is maybe a good start for them to know about a new culture.”  

Mark Marczyk, ring leader of Lemon Bucket Orkestra, looks out into the crowd at the Sixth Street Tent on Sept. 23, 2022. Marczyk is both a vocalist and violinist. Ellie Albin

Ring leader Mark Marczyk  

Mark Marczyk is the leader and co founder of Toronto-based Balkan Folk-Punk Brass band Lemon Bucket Orkestra. The group, described as a 12-member guerilla-punk-klezmer band in the Lotus Festival guide, has members from all over the world and many with Ukrainian roots. 

While the members all have different backgrounds, they are all inspired by the Balkans and Slavic countries. Marczyk’s experience living in Ukraine, where he got to experience different kinds of music from different parts of the world, has specifically influenced Lemon Bucket Orkestra’s direction. 

The group was founded 12 years ago by Marczyk and a couple other people who all fell in love with traditional Ukrainian culture and folk culture, Marczyk said. The Lotus Festival invited select performers this year to show support for Ukraine, according to the festival details.  

“So much of our music is Ukrainian and so much of the message and the energy that we carry is positive-facing,” Marczyk said. "We do a lot of political work and we do a lot of fundraising.”  

Related: [Jacobs School of Music Ballet Theater to begin new season with 'Fall Ballet']

Marczyk said that with his wife and fellow band member Marichka Marczyk, they have raised about $500,000 in fundraising projects for Ukraine. Lemon Bucket Orkestra feels it is important for the band to perform and give a voice to Ukrainian culture to keep everyone aware of what is happening.  

“We feel it is really important to play music that reminds people of all the positive parts of Ukrainian culture that is under attack essentially right now,” Marczyk said. “The freedom to be together and make our own choices, to celebrate life and tragedy and stories together.”  

The colors of the Lotus Festival, from the annual shirt to the pamphlet design and the glow bands at concerts, all show Ukrainian support. Lemon Bucket Orkestra performed at Saturday’s Festival Parade and attendees were able to pick up a flag or mask from the Arts Village to show their support. 

“We know that no matter who the audience is, people come to listen to good music and be moved,” Marczyk said. “You come with an open heart, so it’s bound to be a good experience.” 

Get stories like this in your inbox