How this online festival is supporting world music artists in the age of the pandemic


The live music performance industry is still reeling from the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. But a resilient group of music festival organizers from around the world have come together to launch the second edition of their unique online collaboration, 360 ° CULTURES.

The founding organizers include EarthSync based in Chennai, which hosts a flagship industry conference and annual festival called IndiEarth XChange. EarthSync is a music production house, documentary film producer and cross-cultural artistic collaborator.

IndiEarth XChange, as part of a collective of 14 festivals around the world, launched 360 ° crops as a series of online musical performances. The festival kicked off on March 27-28, with the second edition coming on November 27-28.

Artist range

For two days, 19 groups on four continents will celebrate musical diversity through streaming performances. The musical groups are based in Canada, United States, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Serbia, Russia, Mozambique, Cape Verde and India.

Originally from the Sikar gharana, sitarist Imran Khan is a tenth generation musician who was trained at the age of six by his grandfather, the late sarangi player and singer Ustad Gulab Khan. He then continued his sitar training with his father, Ustad Niyaz Khan and his uncle Padma Bhushan Ustad Sultan Khan.

Cape Verdean singer Ceuzany released her first solo album, Nha Vida in 2012, followed by Ilha d’Melodia.

from Brazil Duo Miter includes sisters Luisa Miter (piano) and Natália Miter (vibraphone and percussion). Seiva, their first author’s instrumental album, was released in October 2021.

Maria and the group, based in Toronto, have been performing together since 2011 at events such as Expressions of Brazil Festival and Brazilfest. Caamaño and Ameixeiras from Galicia in Spain play accordion and violin,

From edition I to edition II

“What was most powerful about the first edition of CULTURAS 360 was the bringing together of festivals to form a collective that supported each other, and the work we were doing for artists through our festivals”, explains Sonya Mazumdar, CEO and Director of EarthSync, in conversation with Your story.

While the pandemic situation has improved in some countries, others still have a long way to go. “In some, systems have collapsed, businesses have been badly affected. The music festival sector was the first to close and the last to resume, the force of collective action therefore resonates deeply in festivals around the world, ”she adds.

“Although conditions have improved in some countries during this period, a large number of countries around the world are still facing the same challenges as nineteen months ago,” said Alfredo Caxaj, co-artistic director of SUNFEST, hosted in London, Ontario, Canada.

Important lessons were learned from the previous edition, in areas such as technical and production aspects. “Things will be better for this edition. The groups have prepared much better and more elaborate segments. They also learned to navigate in current conditions, ”he adds.

“The message remains the same, because not much has changed since the start of the pandemic, ”deplores Alfredo.

Digital opportunity – and challenge

The digital platform has created opportunities for artists to produce new types of material for international audiences, despite the challenges.

“We have to understand that conditions remain difficult in many parts of the world. We would say these particular challenges were easier to navigate this time around than in the previous edition. precisely because there are more resources available now, ”observes Alfredo.

“An important part of CULTURAS 360’s work is to find ways to bridge the challenges of the digital divide for artists in emerging economies and remote regions,” adds Sonya. Managing different time zones across continents can also be a headache.

Virtual or hybrid?

“One of the benefits of these tough times, if we can do it all as such, is that virtual programming activities like this have given us the opportunity to reach new audiences all over the world, to stay in touch with our audience and to continue to support artists, ”observes Alfredo.

“The aim of CULTURAS 360 is also to create tour possibilities for the artists that we present at many of the collective’s festivals when we can return to a kind of normalcy, ”he adds.

Outlook 2022

It will take some time for the music industry to regain its pre-pandemic level. “However, we want to remain optimistic that There is light at the end of the tunnel, and this is where initiatives like CULTURAS 360 are important, ”says Alfredo Caxaj.

One of the objectives of the festival is precisely to encourage colleagues, animators and artists from other festivals not to give up and to continue despite the many challenges still to be met.

“As we all wait for stability to return in a form, shape and manner that will allow for a more cohesive work environment, 2022 could provide an important and precious time to consciously rebuild the industry, ”says Sonya Mazumdar.

The ‘new normal’ should be far away more sustainable for festivals, but above all for artists, wherever they are, she adds.

The medium and the message

The festival organizers also encourage the audience, musicians and festival sponsors to persevere and hope.

” Do not abandon ! Keep making music! If there is anything that has kept hope for the future during this difficult period, it is precisely the music, ”insists Alfredo.

“We have already noticed some amazing music that has been released, and there will definitely be more. Humanity needs music! A community without music is a community without a soul, ”he emphasizes.

“As CULTURAS 360, our work represents you. We are committed to continuing our work so that you can return to the stage as soon as possible, ”concludes Sonya.


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