Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sarawak's Rainforest Festival a hit

By Jessica Lim

The cheers of music lovers continued to echo through the rainforest long after the last chord was struck at the 8th Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) last night.

The three-day festival ended with a bang, with performers from participating countries simultaneously combining their instruments, voices and dances for one last display of breathtaking cultural fusion.

From July 8 to 10, some 20,000 people flocked to the Sarawak Cultural Village in the Santubong Mountains to enjoy workshops and concerts by renowned local and international musicians.

Workshops led by different bands were held at three different locations within the village in the afternoons.

Workshops such as the gypsy dance session by Italian group Acquaragia Drom and a leleng and joget session by Sarawakian group Tuku Kame, were a hit among the participants.

TALENTED MUSICIANS: Foghorn Stringband group from the United States getting ready to perform on the final night. Other workshops saw demonstrations of exotic instruments and discussions on the musical history of different countries.

Many were seen spreading their mats out long before the night concerts, held under the open sky, began.

On the first night, Belize band Florencio Mess and the Maya Kek’Chi Strings performed ancient songs that natives believe were composed by the Maya gods.

Mess, one of the few harpists in the world who still make and play the Kek’Chi harp, delighted the audience with a traditional Mayan dance.

The Seven-man Polish group, Shannon, held the crowd spellbound when they appeared in kilts and belted out Celtic tunes.

The crowd could not get enough of the group, the closing act on the first day, and demanded an encore that lasted past midnight.

The local talents were no less captivating.

The crowd was mesmerised by the haunting sound of the nose-flute played by Baun Lenjau, one of the few remaining masters of the instrument.

Father-son duo, Tabuh Pak Ainal, also had the crowd going with their cheeky antics as they played the tubano and rebana.

Other performers included BBC Radio 3 Award nominee Qawalli band Faiz Ali Faiz, 66-year-old Columbian queen of Bullerengue Petrona Martinez, exotic Buryatian band Namgar, Ivory Coast dance percussionists Yelemba D’Abidjan, performers from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, and Iranian and Kurdestani group Sarawan.

While all three night concerts had good turn-outs, the second night was sold out.

All 8,000 tickets were snapped up by 9.30pm, and officials had to turn away late-comers.

RWMF Chairman Mohd Tuah Jais said they were pleased with the excellent response, but hoped to reduce the audience next year.

RWMF was organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board and sponsored by Heineken, Sunsilk, 1 Utama, Biaramas, Rainforest Tea and fRoots magazine.

Courtesy of: New Straits Times

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