Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Polish and Kenya bands to perform at Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival

KUCHING: The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) may be going into its 14th year, but the well-loved music festival still has the ability to dazzle.

Adding to this year’s musical arsenal are the Warsaw Village Band (Poland) and Kenge Kenge (Kenya).

Kenge Kenge, which translates into ‘fusion of small, exhilarating instruments’, explores the origins of benga, a musical style that is popular in Kenya the way rumba is in Congo or highlife is in Nigeria.

This is roots music from the JoLuo community of Western Kenya, with lyrical arrangements that reflect influences from the popular benga pop-music style.

Dense textures of rhythm and chant are overlaid with an unusual assortment of self-made traditional instruments: Nyatiti lyre, Bul drums, the Nyangile sound box, Ongeng’o metal rings, Asili flute and the Oporo horn. But the singing is in fact the central event and it is strong and generous, full of character and contrast.

From the opposite side of the world, the Warsaw Village Band formed itself to explore Poland’s musical traditions and took up Polish-rooted instruments rarely heard in modern music.

They effectively created a new cultural alternative, a new music for Polish youth. The Warsaw Village Band quickly stepped beyond their borders to bring their mix of ancient-modern Polish music to every corner of the world and have since become a template of cultural preservation and modernisation for countless bands from countless countries. Their excellent musicianship and artistry, combined with their cultural determination have now made them one of, if not the, most famous and most important bands of this genre in the world.

The RWMF will be held from July 8-10 at the Sarawak Cultural Village, which is located 35km outside Kuching and set against the magnificent backdrop of the legendary Mount Santubong.


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