Rainforest family: a virtual story of a Sarawakian festival built for the world

Sarawak's finest (from left) Nading Rhapsody, sape legend Mathew Ngau Jau and Alena Murang are part of the Rainforest World Music Festival's virtual 'experience' event on June 18-20. Photos: Filepic

World music and cultural arts enthusiasts can look forward to a virtual "experience" of the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), which has tapped the best of Sarawakian music talent and more.

The RWMF, which hit the pause button last year, will be streaming for free from June 18-20 (6pm-7.30pm) on its official website and Shopee Live.

This virtual celebration will feature a retrospective of past RWMF performances and new pre-recorded sessions with homegrown acts.

Many festival-goers will miss the sprawling Sarawak Cultural Village, which is home to the RWMF. But the upcoming virtual event will serve as a good party solution during this lockdown. You can still enjoy the best of Sarawakian ethno pop and traditional musicians... all from the comfort of your home.

Award-winning singer and sape player Alena Murang is a contemporary highlight, and there's also sape legend Mathew Ngau Jau, a veteran of the RWMF series, on board. Not to forget ethno pop outfit Nading Rhapsody, which features poet Kulleh Grasi, and the veteran group Tuku Kame, which has gone beyond its Sarawak Cultural Village roots.

The virtual event also promises to revisit stories from the early days of the RWMF, which started in 1998. A nod to the festival's colourful history is on the cards with "throwback" sessions featuring Canadian musicologist Randy Raine-Reusch (original artistic director), Edgar Ong (one of the Sarawak-born founders of the festival), Robert Basiuk (consultant), Datuk Aloysius J. Dris and Jun Lin Yeoh (artistic director).

Travel back in time via these interviews to learn about the RWMF (which started with 300 attendees) and how it has grown into today’s international event (with audiences surpassing 20, 000 annually).

Archival footage will also jog your memory. You can relive the feel of the RWMF through its fun-filled music workshops and iconic stage moments.

The RWMF 2021 is supported by the Sarawak Tourism Board. RWMF 2022 is tentatively slated to be held on June 17-19, 2022.

More details: RWMF.

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