Entertainment

The Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak

SARAWAK WILL BE PLAYING HOST TO AN ECLECTIC MIX OF MUSICIANS AS THE RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL RETURNS TO EAST MALAYSIA IN JULY. SARAH REES HAS THE RUNDOWN ON WHAT IS SET TO BE A WORLD MUSIC EVENT LIKE NO OTHER.

There can’t be many things more sensually satisfying than listening to the beats and swoops of unusual music as the rainforest swishes around you and the evening warmth cocoons you and your fellow revellers in a cosy world of rhythms. Perhaps this is the reason why, for the third consecutive year, the Rainforest World Music Festival has found a place in the top 25 international world music festivals, as published in the world music magazine Songlines.

Now entering its 15th year, this festival reaches far beyond the confines of Kuching – where the festival takes place over three days in the Cultural Village – by featuring artists from the far-flung corners of the world, each of whom brings traditional and sometimes long-forgotten music to a delighted, international audience. Simply scanning the line-up for this year’s event is enough to prompt intrigue: A trio of Palestinian brothers playing the traditional oud (Le Trio Joubran), an energetic brass band from France (La Zikabilo), and a cheery troupe from Burkino Faso (Mamadou Diabate) are just a few of a long list of performers that hail from every populated continent of the world.

One of the biggest names set to perform is the Kanda Bongo Man, who was catapulted into international awareness with his addictive kwasa kwasa dance. Those with an ear for local music will be thrilled to see the young songstress/ songwriter Zee Avi taking to the stage, while Malaysia’s most famous world music percussion troupe, Diplomats of Drum, are a must-see for their astonishing rhythms and beats.

Not only do the artists bring their extraordinary music with them, many have fascinating stories and are the product of extraordinary lives. Danyel Waro, one of the performers set to attend the festival, was born the son of a farmer but has gone on to become the most famous maloya player in his country (via a stint in the French army) and is responsible for re-igniting awareness of the rhythms and instruments of his native Reunion Island.

Visitors to the festival can go beyond standing and admiring these intriguing performers from a distance, as the festival programme includes various workshops and spin-off events to enable audience members to get up close and personal with these fascinating musical artists. This is a wonderful opportunity to rub shoulders with performers from all over the world and learn more about the diverse range of music that lurks in some of the hidden nooks and crannies of the globe.

In line with the international vibe created from the smorgasbord of performers taking to the stage for the festival, the event is set to attract music enthusiasts from all over the world. The CEO of the Sarawak Tourism Bureau – the event organisers – has reported that “this year, tour operators from as far away as Europe and Australia are putting together packages to the festival and destination.” He went on to say that there was “no doubt that this event has been a contributor to tourist arrivals to the state,” and Kuching is preparing itself for an onslaught of music-loving visitors as the festival hits town on 13 July.

To offer tourists and visitors a complete experience, various packages on offer include tickets to the festival events as well as trips to the state’s top tourism destinations to deliver a superb experience of the wide variety Sarawak has to offer culturally, naturally, and musically.

For an area that has only recently become a top tourist destination and known by the world at large, Sarawak is carving a place for itself as a multi-faceted destination thanks to this superb music event. Anyone with a taste for foreign beats and an open musical mind should consider making the trip east to share in a music festival like no other, as a world of rhythms and instruments find their way to one of Malaysia’s natural gems.
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For more details on the festival, the artists set to appear, and the packages available, visit www.rwmf.com. The festival runs from 13-15 July at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

This article was written by Sarah Rees for Senses of Malaysia.
Source: Senses of Malaysia July-Augt 2012
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