Friday, July 18, 2008

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival 2008 - A study in harmony

The Rainforest World Music Festival 2008 proved once again that if you were looking for good music, this is where you would find it. The learning experience was a bonus.

Grappling with the term “world music” and what it actually means, I headed off to Santubong, Sarawak last weekend for the 11th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF2008) in search of an answer. The festival was to be an eye opener of sorts for me. Expecting what I’ve come to understand as one of Sarawak’s finest attractions – great music, days of fun in the sun, scenic views of the lush rainforest and delectable tuak – I was instead treated to something quite different.

Unfortunately, the RWMF2008 has not retained much of its low-key charm – some years ago, no one even knew where Santubong was – now it is a hub of activity. The Sarawak Cultural Village, which hosts the annual festival, was filled to the brim this year with over 22,500 people turning up over the three-day fiesta. And I don’t use the word “fiesta” lightly: think of corporate sponsor banners splashed indiscriminately, think of a funfair of foodstalls, (faux) tattoo booths, massage tents and hey, you could even get a caricature of yourself drawn for RM30!

In many ways, the lack of state sponsorship (if you hadn’t read about it yet, this year the RWMF2008, which is organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board, had its usual stipend of RM500,000 slashed to RM70,000) has bred a slew of unsightly props to an otherwise rather charming festival.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival 2008 - A study in harmony

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