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The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) started yesterday July 12, 2012 with a tree planting event. Musicians, dignitaries, festival staff, volunteers and members of the media planted 300 native Borneo tree species at Damai Central. During the press conference, Assistant Minister of Tourism Dato Talib Zulpilip described the efforts to preserve the environment.

The same message was conveyed to the media representatives at a press briefing at Santubong One Hotel. Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Dato Rashid Khan described the tree planting and the use of green products as efforts to reduce the pollution generated by the large number of festival goers.

Mr. Khan also mentioned how the festival continues to evolve with the addition of fringe elements such as the musical talent contest and the efforts to have sustainable growth.

Later that evening, the Rainforest World Music Festival had the Opening Ceremony at Sarawak Cultural Village. during dinner, several generations of sape (boat shaped Sarawak lute) players performed together and provided solo performances. The best known of the three is virtuoso instrumentalist Jerry Kamit, who normally plays at Sarawak Cultural Village as part of the Tuku Kane group. The other two musicians were Jefferey Lawai son of sape legend Matthew Ngau, and the promising 13-year old Dhugal Maclean, one of Jerry Kamit’s teenage students.

Raiz de Cafezal (Brazil)
Photo by Angel Romero

After dinner, the opening concerts moved to the festival’s tree stage, which is the smaller of the two stages. World fusion band Rhythms of Borneo, winners of last year’s Rainforest World Music Fest Talent Search competition, opened the concert with a fiery mix of percussion instruments led by gong soloist Ainal Bustari. The band presents traditional Sarawak rhythms and dances in a contemporary format.

They were followed by the Brazilian beats of Raiz de Cafezal, who play the lively music of Brazil’s coffee plantation land.

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