Sunday, July 02, 2017

Local acts set to thrill Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival stage

WHEN used together, the words ‘rainforest’ and ‘music’ conjure up notions of something natural and enchanting.

The upcoming Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in the middle of this month realises the best of these notions into an unforgettable experience that will see local performers commanding the stage at one of the world’s best international music festivals.

Among them will be sape maestro Mathew Ngau Jau and his band, Lan E Tuyang which will feature three other sape masters from the Kayan and Kenyah community.

A living heritage himself, Mathew will be leading the band together with Salomon Gau, the 2005 Baram Warrior Dance champion from Long Ikang, as well as Jimpau Balan, son of the late Balan Asang, a sape legend from Belaga.

Joining them will be Alena Murang, Mathew’s prodigious student who shot to fame for her performances on the sape and her determination to preserve the traditional songs of the Orang Ulu people.

Young nose-flute player Luyoh Rawing tops off the band’s line-up by playing the less popular but no less significant traditional Sarawakian instrument.

Alena and her five female sape players call themselves ‘Ilu Leto’ which means “We, the Ladies” in the Kenyah language.

The members are from the different ethnicities in Sarawak, including Elizabeth Bungan Peter, Munirih Jebeni, Rosemary Colony Joel Dunstan, Nurul Syafiqah?and Tasneem Bolhassan.

This all-woman band truly bridges the old and new culture of Sarawak by performing music of the Kenyah, Kelabit and Iban tribes on the sape, an instrument that used to be taboo for women to hold.

When At Adau won the Kuching Waterfront Festival Award 2016, the group also earned itself a spot on the festival’s stage despite the band only being around since 2014.

These fresh-faced musicians play experimental traditional Sarawak melodies, using the sape and ‘perutong’ accompanied by electric and bass guitars.