Monday, 8 July 2013

Rainforest World Music Festival 2013: Discover The Gem

The festival has brought together eclectic musicians and dancers from around the globe to a scenic location in Kuching, Sarawak Cultural Village. SCV is located at the foot of Mount Santubong, surrounded by lush rainforest and a short walk to a beautiful beach. It is a perfect setting for a musical event that named after the rainforest.  Our experience and mood at the festival would have been different if it was held in the urban area. Set in the outskirts of a city certainly helped to capture more relaxing and refreshing feels which able to rejuvenate an exhausted body, mind and soul. To me it was an escapade to a paradise from the hectic daily working life.

The word WORLD was enough to excite someone like me. Not only it was my first time attending the Rainforest World Music Festival, but it also my first time blogging for a world event. It was like you were being thrown into the middle of the sea and expected to swim to your own safety without being taught the survival skills beforehand. As we know, experience is the best teacher. Therefore, challenge was instantly accepted!

The event began on the first day with performers conducting workshops for the public. I never quite got it when others referred to the daytime workshops as a 'gem' of RWMF. The workshops were conducted at three main venues such as Dewan Lagenda, Iban Longhouse and Theatre. Major crowd would normally swarm Lagenda Hall as I was informed. My guess the hall was big enough to gather a sea of dance enthusiasts and provide ample space for performers to manoeuvre.

The first slot of workshop kicked off by Bandari Dance and Songs from South of Iran. First they sang, then they danced. The performers were known as Mohsen Sharifian and the Lian Band. Their distinctive music instruments would be the Nay-Anban (bagpipe) and the Nay-Jofti (double-pipe reed flute). I did not stay for long as I had to hurry to the Iban Longhouse to catch up with another performance there. The crowd kept getting bigger when I was leaving.

As I reached my destination (Iban Longhouse) the workshop was already in progress. The performance entitled "Songs My Mother Taught Me" presented by numerous musicians. Among them were Mojmir Novakovic (KRIES), Rafly bin Muhammad Isa (RAFLY WA SAJA), Alp Bora (ALP BORA), Brian Hogan (KILA), Mathew Ngau (LAN E TUYANG), Reon Williams (NUNUKUL YUGGERA), Edgar Rivero (REY VALLENATO BETO JAMAICA), Drew Simon (PINE LEAF BOYS) and Javier Garcia (REY VALLENATO BETO JAMAICA). At this workshop we got to listen to songs from different countries and how they harmonised spontaneously. Their singing was impromptu. I believed it was not easy to get people sang in one accord especially when you never did it together and at the same time having to perform in front of the audience whom might expect something special at a higher level. They deserved a salute for being able to pull it off. This type of workshop would surely attract those who are more into singing.

After I took a few snapshots at the Iban Longhouse, I went back for the Body Rites workshop at Lagenda Hall. It was truly an interactive workshop as everyone got involved in learning the Aboriginal Australian dances led by Donald Dodd of Nunukul Yuggera. The other members of Nunukul Yuggera were Ashley Ruska, Montel Butterworth and Beau Broome. They performed  a few dances before the workshop participants were taught how to dance the White Crane dance. I personally loved the sound of the Didgeridoo and always wondering how the sound was produced. The Didgeridoo is a wind instrument which existed around 1,500 years ago. Their leader did explain the Didgeridoo was played with continuously vibrating lips to produce the drone while using a special breathing technique. It required breathing in through the nose at the same time expelling stored air out of the mouth using the tongue and cheeks. The Didgeridoo was traditionally and originally played as an accompaniment to ceremonial dancing and singing. However, nowadays it is also for recreational purposes.

Nunukul Yuggera demonstrated a few Aboriginal Australian dances to the workshop participants.

Everyone doing the White Crane dance.

The last workshop for the day, SKINS, was probably the one which everyone anticipated the most. It was a percussion workshop on different drums from around the world. The drummers were Nceba Gonxeca (leader) playing Djembe, Mkokeli Masala playing N'goni drum, Fouad Achkir playing Tambour, Herwan Wiradireja playing Sundanese drum, Morteza Palizdan playing Dayareh, Soner Tezcan playing Turkish percussion, Edric Lai playing sea drum or Kompang and Dave Hingerty playing the Congas. The sounds of the pounding drums transmitted a rhythm of dance that eventually got everyone up on their feet and danced away to the beat. These drummers who came from different countries never performed together but somehow inexplicably all those different drums could be played in unison. That was mind-boggling!

Drums from different countries rocking the house.

Crowd shaking to the beat.

The Day 1 workshop ended well with participants left feeling entertained and happy. It certainly got me anxious of what would 'the gem' had to offer on the second day. I was told the crowd would come in the largest number particularly on Saturday. 

 This was the place to get the performers' CDs.

 Free Yoga demonstration during interval (reminded me of a scene in Spiderman movie!).

 A couple 'chillax' between workshops.

 Yeah, the leopard print and the beautiful beads caught my attention.

The most famous party animal at RWMF 2013, Bryce William Wentworth. 

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