One year ago, Stellamara and Axiom of Choice closed the 7th
Monterey World Music Festival with a program entitled “The Mystic Dance.” Both
bands had appeared at previous Festivals – in 1998 and 1997 respectively. In the
interim, they had magnified and polished their considerable artistries. They
made a fitting encore and, unknown to artists and audience, an apt farewell to a
Festival doomed to be the last. Not long afterwards the Festival was terminated.
Soon, I departed from a job I had held for fourteen years.As paranoia around the California budget crisis combined with post 9/11
xenophobia, the message and meaning of the Monterey World Music Festival, was
suppressed. Nevertheless, during the seven annual festivals, nearly 100 artists
and groups performed for diverse audiences whose souls were perhaps more attuned
to global expressions.
From the beginning, the Festival’s message was unabashedly universal: cultural
awareness and understanding through the experience of music. With exceptional
artistry defining the Festival’s offerings, performers and audiences achieved
near ecstatic states.
The 2001 Festival fell on the weekend after 9/11. Although many
bands cancelled, there were heroic appearances by Madagascar’s Tarika and the
Mongolian singer Urna, both made arduous journeys to reach Monterey. Celebrated
last minute stand-ins Hamza El Din, G.S. Sachdev, Irina Mikhailova and Kitka
gave heartfelt performances in the chill. As the patriotic air filled with
American flags, the World Music Festival stage, veiled in prayer flags, seemed
like an altar in another world.
After 9/11, the Festival’s imperative became a search for “Global Consonances”
and “Hope for the World,” themes of the last two Festivals. Four Festival
websites (2000-2003) can be viewed and are archived at
Presently, I am living in Austin, Texas, my wife’s hometown. A poet and writer
as well as a presenter and arts administrator, I am working on a book about
festivals, among other projects. Moreover, I am seeking new opportunities,
especially involving world music, anywhere.
Founder and Director, Monterey World Music Festival (1997-2003)
[Photos: 1 – Axiom of Choice, 2 – Tarika].