Written By: Anatole Ashraf
New York—New York City enjoys a widely-held reputation as a melting pot for a variety of cultures, food, and art. The city’s music scene, in particular, is about to receive one more reason to cement its reputation in 2012 as artists from around the world gather here for GlobalFest 2012.
On Jan. 8 2012, 12 musical artists from at least 12 different countries will gather in New York City for GlobalFest 2012 at Webster Hall. The concert will take place over five hours from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. with artists playing between 30 and 60 minutes on each of the venue’s three stages. It will mark the ninth year that the concert has been featured at the historic downtown Manhattan venue.
GlobalFest 2012 continues in the tradition of featuring musicians from around the world. The list of artists this year includes musicians from Southern Italy, northeastern China, Yemen, France, Brazil, and Haiti. The concert will also feature the American debuts of The Gloaming—a collective of American and Celtic musicians—and the Chinese jazz artist Wang Li, who notably features the jaw harp, an instrument native to Asia and all tribes of Turkic people.
In addition to artists from other countries, GlobalFest 2012 will feature international artists from American cities such as Boston and, of course, New York. The Debo Band, based in Boston, delivers an eclectic mix of Ethiopian music and funk influences, while M.A.K.U. Soundsystem celebrates the Afro-Colombian musical traditions that are found in the New York City borough of Queens.
GlobalFest 2012 also acts as a platform for discussing social and political issues. The Haitian artist, BélO, for example, says he was chosen to be an “activist artist.”
“It would be easier to earn more money or be more popular doing love songs,” says BélO. “But I was born an activist musician. I live it, I feel it, and I have a vision.”
One group of artists attracting attention from news outlets such as National Public Radio is the Silk Road Ensemble, a collective of fourteen artists from countries that include India, Iran, Azerbaijan, China, Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. The group is especially notable for being personally chosen by founder, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. GlobalFest 2012 will mark the collective’s tenth active year.
In addition to curating a showcase of international artists in New York, the organizers of GlobalFest 2012 time the concert to coincide with annual Association for Performing Arts Presenters conference, when thousands of concert promoters will seek new talent for upcoming programming seasons. The organizers call the conference “the most important booking even in North America.”
With such an eclectic but energetic collection of artists that spans a multitude of countries and cultures, GlobalFest 2012 promises to brighten up an otherwise quiet winter month in New York City.