Iban Miring ceremony to kick off the festival

Iban Miring ceremony to kick off the festival

As one of the top music festivals in the world, Sarawak’s Rainforest World Music Festival certainly needs no introduction among music lovers, who travel from around the world to immerse themselves in three full days of music, dance and culture, forging friendships with like-minded people.

 traditional music and dance

traditional music and dance

 Cultural Extravaganza at Baruk Amphitheatre

Cultural Extravaganza at Baruk Amphitheatre

RWMF was established in 1998 with an audience of about 300. Fast forward twenty years later, this iconic music festival on the world calendar plays host to at least 20,000 visitors annually, of all ages, races, colour and creed.

Sangtam Naga, Nagaland, India

Sangtam Naga, Nagaland, India

The Forbidden Dance led by Tabanka

The Forbidden Dance led by Tabanka (Cape Verde)

This year, I was invited by the Sarawak Tourism Board to cover RWMF. Boy, am I honoured to be part of the festival which had more than a hundred activities lined up, held at the foot of Mount Santubong, the mythical Puteri Santubong mountain that stands at an imposing height of 810 metres.

Henna art

Henna art

 body tattoo

body tattoo

Go Green
What makes RWMF dissimilar is its promotion of environmental awareness, recycling and waste management initiatives. For this 22nd edition of RWMF, in its commitment to a sustainable festival, several partnerships were formed to make different components of the festival “green”, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 eco-friendly wild Borneo potpourri

eco-friendly wild Borneo potpourri

Some of the initiatives implemented this year included:
A ban on styrofoam use for a sustainable food market
Food waste composting
Festival ground cleanup
Upcycling banners as fashionable tote bags
Discouraging smoking on the festival grounds
Encouraging the reuse of water bottles by providing water refill stations
Encouraging the recycling of waste by strategically placing eye-catching recycling bins

 #urbins - urban bins

#urbins – urban bins

Immerse in unique cultures
Throughout the three-day RWMF were, among others, mini sessions of interactive workshops and music demonstrations, sape and percussion tutorials, wellness programmes of belly dancing plus zumba, food festival and the Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar, hosted alongside RWMF.

 Spirit of the Hornbill, Indonesia

Spirit of the Hornbill, Indonesia

 Spirit of the Hornbill, Indonesia

Spirit of the Hornbill, Indonesia

If you have been to the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV), you would know how huge the area is. Size is one thing but SCV is really an apt venue to accommodate such an event, with its traditional houses hosting these side programmes: Iban Longhouse, Bidayuh Terraces, Chinese House, Indigenous Stage, etc. were a hive of activity over three days, allowing the diverse global visitors a chance to get close and have hands-on experience to learn about another culture or tradition, including the various ethnic tribes of Sarawak.

Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar

Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar

Discover new music
It has been quite a while since I expanded my music collection due to a hectic work schedule. What I mainly listen to is Bon Jovi on loop, to keep myself alert when I work at the computer or during long commutes. Attending RWMF 2019 rekindled my love for indigenous music, as RWMF is the perfect platform to introduce different genres of music to the masses, especially folk or ethnic music.

Olga Cerpa Y Mestisay, Canary Islands

Olga Cerpa Y Mestisay, Canary Islands

Video: RWMF 2019: Olga Cerpa Y Mestisay, Canary Islands

music lovers

music lovers

This year, emerging local bands that were invited to perform at the Big Tent included Alunan Kerongcong, Sayu Ateng, Barrock Ethnicity Band, Pinanak Sentah, Sanggalang, The Oriental Traditional Orchestra Kuching, Warisan Sape and Raban Kenyalang.

Ballet Folclorico de Chile Bafochi, Chile

Ballet Folclorico de Chile Bafochi, Chile

 Rajery, Madagascar

Rajery, Madagascar

Video: RWMF 2019: Rajery, Madagascar

There were five stages at RWMF: Big Tent, Indigenous Stage, Theatre Stage, Tree Stage and Jungle Stage. The bigger events in the afternoon were held at the first three stages, while the night performances were hosted at Tree Stage, and the main Jungle Stage.

Kila, Ireland

Kila, Ireland

concert goers

concert goers

The headliners played on Jungle Stage at night but that didn’t mean that performances on the other stages were less entertaining.

Druk Folk Musician, Bhutan

Druk Folk Musician, Bhutan

Ana Alcaide, Spain

Ana Alcaide, Spain

In fact, having attended RWMF 2019 and made my rounds of the venue at different times over three days, checking out the various stages, I could attest to the fact that the performers were all able to capture the audiences’ attention with their unique presentation of song, music and dance.

Kemada, Sarawak

Kemada, Sarawak

San Salvador, France

San Salvador, France

Video: RWMF 2019: San Salvador, France

Electrifying atmosphere
Besides the up and coming acts, some of the more established artistes were invited to present their music as well, such as Mathias Duplessy and Macka B.

 Macka B, Jamaica / UK

Macka B, Jamaica / UK

Frenchman Mathias Duplessy on the guitar was especially captivating in his collaboration with Chinaman Guo Gan on the erhu, Mongolian horsehead fiddle virtuoso and throat singer Naraa Puredorj and Aliocha Regnard, also a French, on the nyckelharpa, with a blend of emotive music of an East meets West fusion set.

Violins of the World

Violins of the World

Video: RWMF 2019: Duplessy & The Violins Of The World

With an interesting project named the Violins of the World, music has certainly brought these four instruments, four cultures, and four temperaments together as one.

 Mathias Duplessy, France

Mathias Duplessy, France

DARMAS, Malaysia

DARMAS, Malaysia

Another group that caught my ear was DARMAS, which is a contraction for “Dari Malaysia” or “From Malaysia” in English. The young men from Kuala Lumpur recently won five gold and 3 silver medals at the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) 2019 in Los Angeles. Congratulations, guys, and I am already looking forward to their first album, Teja, scheduled to be released later this year.

 Ballet Folclorico de Chile Bafochi, Chile

Ballet Folclorico de Chile Bafochi, Chile

 Ballet Folclorico de Chile Bafochi, Chile

Ballet Folclorico de Chile Bafochi, Chile

Video: RWMF 2019: La Chiva Gantiva, Colombia

Since coming home, I have been listening non-stop on Spotify both Mathias Duplessy and DARMAS. Yup, I have discovered new music to keep me company while I work.

TRAD.ATTACK! Estonia

TRAD.ATTACK! Estonia

Video: RWMF 2019: TRAD.ATTACK! Estonia

concert atmosphere

concert atmosphere

I have to say that studio recordings as shared on Spotify are mellow compared to the live performances of these artistes. Thus, I am positively certain that it is because concert atmosphere and crowd response induce great influence on the energy and mood of the stage presentations.

At Adau, Sarawak

At Adau, Sarawak

Video: RWMF 2019: At Adau, Sarawak

This is the magic of live concerts and why we must attend the Rainforest World Music Festival; purely for its raw sound.

Kila + Oki, Ireland / Japan

Kila + Oki, Ireland / Japan

 Oki Kano, Japan

Oki Kano, Japan

Party all night long
If all the music on the Jungle Stage and Tree Stage was insufficient, there was the DJ After Party, held at The Big Tent. That was where the party started when the music stopped at the two outdoor stages.

 Mauravann, Mauritius

Mauravann, Mauritius

Video: RWMF 2019: Mauravann, Mauritius

Video: RWMF 2019: Mauravann, Mauritius

This year, concert goers could choose either the Reggae set, Bhangra set or Russian Romps set. Some were game for all three. I have to admit that despite my intent to party through the night at least once, I was unable to stay up for it. Instead of acknowledging that I am too old to party, I would say that I am still underaged, just to make myself feel better. Hahaha! There is always next year, right?

Mehdi Nassouli, Morocco

Mehdi Nassouli, Morocco

 WAI, New Zealand

WAI, New Zealand

Video: RWMF 2019: WAI, New Zealand

Rainforest World Music Festival 2020 promises to be even bigger and better, and it is happening on 10th until 12th July, 2020. I will be there. Who is joining me? Let’s make plans together. For the latest updates on Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), log on to its official Facebook page.

Tabanka (Cape Verde)

Tabanka (Cape Verde)

Video: RWMF 2019: Tabanka (Cape Verde)

Finale

Finale

Event: Rainforest World Music Festival 2019
Venue: Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching, Sarawak
Date: 12th – 14th July, 2019
Time: full day

Video: RWMF 2019: Finale

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With love

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