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Musicália works to build community, bring music and arts to WU

Oakley Phoenix

Copy Editor

Disclaimer: One of the organizers interviewed in this piece, Andrea Griffin, also works for The Collegian as Media Content Manager.

If you haven’t already heard of Musicália, you’re in the right place. And if you have already heard whispers of a new arts, community, and music festival taking place on campus this coming April, you’re about to learn so much more: exactly what Musicália is, why we as a community need it, and what you can look forward to in less than two months time.

Cristina Chapa (‘22), the Event Operations Director for Musicália, shared that they’d heard about a previous music festival at Willamette, during their Bearcat Days in the spring of 2018, and subsequently realized that it wasn’t going to happen again during their first year…and then COVID-19 created more and more roadblocks from there. Chapa decided to take matters into her own hands and began working on a preliminary Community Action Fund for Equity and Sustainability (CAFES) grant proposal.

This was where Sofia Albawani-Curiel (‘23), Musicália’s Community Relations and Volunteer Coordinator, joined the process, after hearing Chapa share her proposal in class, “Cristina brought it up in our Education and Advocacy class, and it sounded like a joyful experience. I feel like, a lot of times, BIPOC communities or spaces are centered around shared trauma, as opposed to having a good time together, or experiencing our culture, music, and art, and just laughing…[I] wanted to add to the vision.”

Andrea Griffin (‘23), the Strategic Planning and Talent Outreach Coordinator for Musicália — and the Media Content Manager for The Collegian, was the final addition to the Executive team. They recalled “[bumping] into Cristina at the Bistro” and hearing her say that she was “doing a music festival, so I told her to count me in.”

CAFES Chair Mira Karthik (‘24), was serving as a CAFES proposal consultant when Chapa initially began planning Musicália at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, and she met frequently with both Chapa and Albawani-Curiel to answer their questions and provide support. Once the proposal was approved in November, the CAFES and Musicália Exec teams began meeting biweekly to check in and make progress.

For those unaware of CAFES’ structure, it is a student-led program and committee that provides funding for projects and programs that advance on-campus equity and sustainability through an optional $25 semesterly student fee. Karthik explained that the Musicália grant was on the larger side of what community members can ask for, which meant that the CAFES team needed to take a more hands-on approach to ensure that Musicália was well-thought-out and justified in its expenses: “When projects come in, we all sit together, we review them, and make sure that we’re able to see the vision for different projects, such as Musicália, and that we have a clear understanding of where the money’s going to go because we want to make sure that whatever we’re funding is in the best interest of the student fees that we’re getting money from.”

Karthik also expressed joy in getting to work closely with Chapa, Albawani-Curiel and Griffin because of their willingness to collaborate, their persistence and communication skills. To quote Karthik, they are “three wonderful humans, and they’ve done so much on campus”, and watching them pull Musicália together has been “really inspiring and wonderful to watch”.

When asked to provide an elevator pitch for the festival, Griffin replied, “Musicália is a CAFES-funded, student-organized event that is founded on an ethic of love, collaboration and care. It’s special because it’s not only about the music, but also about the identities that people are bringing into their art, and the collaboration amongst the student organizations that [is also going] into this event.”

Chapa provided more context from there, explaining that they “wanted to create a space that opened up doors and platforms for marginalized students on campus” and were hoping to have “a community-building space such as a music festival”. Griffin clarified that Musicália “is not centered around the same values that the majority of the music industry is; it’s centered around supporting young people and people with marginalized identities that aren’t necessarily valued or prioritized in the industries that they’re trying to make it in.”

Karthik noted that “since 2020, we haven’t had a collective space to be together, to build community and connect in a large capacity” – and first-years and second-years, specifically, haven’t ever gotten the chance to experience Willamette at its full capacity. Karthik affirmed that Musicália is both a response to that longing and to the greater “need for social justice, equity and representation [that’s] being answered by a musical, community-based performance event[, which] is so exciting because…it’s a more fun approach.”

With that in mind, students can expect to see underrepresented, up-and-coming musicians that are mostly Oregon-based, some Willamette student performers, tabling from various EDI-focused student organizations, zines, games, giveaways and other activities as well. Albawani-Curiel emphasized that “people can bring whatever they’d like [to Musicália] – whatever [they’d] like to contribute or see.”

When asked what they hoped the Willamette community would take away from Musicália, Chapa’s answer was profound: “I want first and second-year students, students of color, first gen[eration] students, queer students – I want them to see what’s possible for them to do at a predominantly white institution that wasn’t made for them…and to use the University’s money, that we all pay, to celebrate their existence and resistance on campus.” Albawani-Curiel’s succinct response was to “let students know that there is space to take up.”

Griffin spent a bit of time in quiet thought before she answered. Her response was two-part. First, she talked about how we “need a space for students to take a break from whatever other work they’re doing and enjoy music and being together”. Griffin referenced last semester’s house shows as a similar opportunity for students to enjoy performances and shared space without necessarily being in a ‘party environment.’

The second piece of her answer centered around offering a bit of wisdom to the student body: “I hope we can be an example to the students that you can do something that’s meaningful and valuable without it having to be some sort of petition or call to the Willamette administration. It can be something very simple – but very powerful as an artistic event and also something that involves collaboration amongst the students.”

Karthik envisioned Musicália leaving its mark on the Willamette community because it’s a “program that people will remember”, “setting a precedent for work like this to continue” and showcasing the “need for more programs like this”. Karthik hopes that Musicália will mark the beginning of a new era where work focused on equity and empowerment will be at the forefront of what we show up for on campus.

The final question the Musicália Exec team answered was how the Willamette community could get involved. The three leaders offered up a small laundry list of ways to show support including: attending office hours on Fridays at 12 p.m. in the Bistro and/or the Student Center for Equity and Empowerment (E&E) – as an opportunity for community members to bring forth their ideas and discuss what they’d like to see, starting to think about how to keep Musicália going after this year, informing students with marginalized identities that there is space for them in the planning process, letting allies know that there is space for them in Musicália’s day-of-event support needs, and lastly, showing up to Musicália and enjoying it!

Musicália will take place on April 16, 2022, on the Quad, and it will be drug and alcohol-free per university regulations.

Karthik would like to encourage members of the community to apply for CAFES grants before the next submission deadline on March 18, 2022. All CAFES-related inquiries can be sent to

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