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Experience The Adventure Of An Exotic Music Festival In Sarawak

Music from Sarawak’s traditional Sape, the boat-shaped lute that has become the symbol of the Rainforest World Music Festival, gongs of all sizes and bamboo instruments, the sitar and tabla (the influence of Hindustani music in Malaysia), dhol drums with Malaysian flavours.  All these you will hear alongside music from across the globe. Lovely ladies on fiery fiddles, balafon and talking drums that mingle with the ancient oud (an ancient string instrument); exotic instruments, like the carimbo of the Brazilian Amazonian Indians and mythical txalarpartas – an instrument which is made from long wooden boards and will be played by the Basque band from Spain. There will also be traditional music dating back to the slave days, slave chants which are close to extinction, all these in the Creole language accompanied by traditional instruments– the kayanm, bob and rouler. – music which evokes welling emotion, spiritual intensity and ecstatic rhythmic trance. You will get to hear incredible throat singers from Mongolia and their musical instruments like horse head fiddles and zither among others as well as French chanson and gypsy music.  And if that is not enough, the Kanda Bongo Man and his Kwasa Kwasa dance will surely make you dance. As the famous saying goes“If Kanda Bongo Man doesn’t make you want to dance, call an ambulance. You’re dead.”

A thousand harmonies seemingly at odds and yet in unison, a world apart but here, one world, together…… a real adventure!

Every year in mid July, thousands and thousands of music lovers travel across the globe to Sarawak on the island of Borneo. They will all converge at Santubong, a 45 minute drive from Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak. It is like an annual pilgrimage for these music lovers who come to attend the Rainforest World Music Festival, which has been voted by Songlines, a renowned world music magazine for 3 consecutive years as the top 25 international festivals. This annual event, now in its 15th year, is organized by the Sarawak Tourism Board and is a 3 day celebration of daytime music workshops and action-packed nightly shows. The event this year will be held from the 13 to 15 July 2012.

Under the imposing shadow of Mount Santubong, and in the midst of a virgin rainforest at the edge of the South China Sea, the Rainforest World Music Festival is a unique festival that brings together on the same stage renowned world musicians from all continents and indigenous musicians from the interiors of the mythical island of Borneo.

The kinship and spirit among music makers and music lovers alike as they celebrate one another in the cradle of Mother Nature is unique to the green haven where thousand-year old trees reign.  An annual communion whose spirit is as timeless as the intricate ecosystem that celebrates the diversity of life, it has thrived on a winning formula. Three days beginning at 2pm everyday with workshops that allow festival-goers to interact with the musicians and experience the music and dance of the different cultures up close. The nights are five-hour concerts that take place on a main stage and smaller “Tree Stage” that carries on past midnight.

Nighttime concerts are held on a stage built by the lake, under the open sky and in an informal ambiance, sitting on the grass lawns and dancing to entrancing world beats. The festival then culminates in a huge finale on the final night, where all performers are invited to play onstage as one. Its formula of afternoon informative workshops, ethno-musical lectures, jamming sessions and mini concerts, followed by evening performances on the main stage has proven to be a hit with audiences.

This year’s line-up has been confirmed. There will be performers from Burkina Faso; Mamadou Diabate, Le Trio Joubran from Palestine, Khusugtun from Mongolia, Raiz De Cafezal a group of Brazilian Amazonian Indians, Oreka TX from Spain, La Zikabilo from France, String Sisters comprising fiddlers from the Scandinavian countries, Scotland, Ireland & the United States, Kanda Bongo Man from Congo, Cankisou from Czech Republic, Daniel Waro from the Reunion Island and Hata-The One comprising musicians from Malaysia, Korea, Turkey and Taiwan. They will also be joined by Malaysian musicians like Samuel Dass and Prakash, Diplomats of Drum as well as Sarawakian very own Rhythm of Borneo, and The Music of Sarawak who representing the diverse and poly-layered local music and instruments.

Sarawak – The Land of Adventure

Sarawak is a place for history, mystery, romance and exotic adventures, the land of the fabled white Rajahs, the Hornbills and the Orang Utans. Its rainforest houses the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystem. The ancient virgin forest is also home to 27 ethnic groups with their own distinct languages, culture and lifestyle. Their ancient cultures may differ but they have one thing in common, their warmth and hospitality.

Arrive in Sarawak and you step into adventure. Opt for a morning stroll in the national park near your hotel, trek through pristine jungle featuring breathtaking landscapes and the world’s longest rainforest-canopy walk or spend days exploring the world’s most extensive cave system. Visit caves that were inhabited 40,000 years ago, learn how Indian and Chinese merchants traded for Sarawak’s exotica centuries before the first Europeans came here, with tales of princes and pirates, of headhunters and explorers. Or simply relax on our beaches on the South China Sea, scuba dive off dramatic reefs or just enjoy a round of golf on one of our excellent courses. Sarawak has something for everyone and all are welcome.

What to expect at the Rainforest World Music Festival

Apart from the music, there will also be a smorgasbord of delectable delights at the Food and Village Mart set against the talismanic Orang Ulu and Iban longhouses, which encircle the venue for the whole duration of the festival.  Take back with you a variety of arts and craft, event memorabilia as well as CD and recordings of the performing artistes.

Music is not all about sound; it is an art-form, and with it comes culture, diversity, creativity, talent, and spellbinding performances.  As one foreign journalist puts it, the festival is “one of the most extraordinary festivals I have attended in terms of the camaraderie amongst the performers, the lakeside setting under Mount Santubong and the warm welcome of the hosts.”

The Rainforest World Music Festival is a not-to-be-missed occasion in the heart of the Borneo Jungle. This is where people regardless of their ethnicity, cultural backgrounds and music interests come together for three magical days for a fun filled, wholesome festival experience with a country fair atmosphere amidst lush greenery. Come experience a truly memorable musical extravaganza amidst the lush green paradise that is the mythical land of Sarawak.   We bid you, “Selamat Datai”! (Welcome!)

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Comments by audience

Borrowing the words of the World Music Expo (WOMEX) General Director, Gerald Seligman saying “Truly, the Rainforest World Music Festival has the most extraordinary setting I’ve ever seen for a music event, ringed as it is by dense forest and dramatically high and ragged mountains. There is no better backdrop for performance stages. The performances themselves were wide-ranging and incredibly well presented.”

The New Strait Times newspaper dubbed the festival as “the grandest and one of the best packed shows ever staged in the country”.

Tips for an enjoyable Rainforest World Music Festival experience:

 Be there early. There are usually long queues at the gate for tickets or access to the venue due to ticket verification and other security measures.

  • Please do not bring non-permitted items (knives, sharp items) as they will be confiscated
  • No food & drink and animals are allowed to be brought inside the venue.
  • Food, beverage, CDs, souvenirs and crafts will be on sale at the event. All items are sold on CASH Terms except where indicated and there is no ATM machine at the venue so please prepare accordingly.
  • Limited car-parking facilities are available near the festival site. However, to avoid any inconvenience, you are encouraged to catch the shuttle buses which will operate at regular intervals during the event.
  • You can bring your own lawn chairs or mats.
  • Bring along a desire to be at one with nature and a yearning to celebrate and unite with kindred spirits from around the globe.

Issued by:

Corporate Communications Unit


T  : +6 082 423600

F  : +6 082 416700

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