Cultures

3 Reasons to Travel to Borneo Jazz 2018

Sarawak’s homegrown jazz stage is set to introduce acts from Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan, in addition to Asian musical favourites. Mallika Naguran tunes in.

MIRI, 2 May 2018. Jazz fans can look forward to a full three-day musical extravaganza at Borneo Jazz in Miri, Sarawak. The 13th annual edition of the jazz festival will be held from Friday 11 May to Sunday 13 May 2018, organised by Sarawak Tourism Board for 13 years now.

30414785_802404946612975_6506964427113299489_n.jpg

But three things are different this year. First, there’s a change in venue. Borneo Jazz will be held at the Coco Cabana, Marina Bay – bigger, better with more room to sit, dance and walk around by the seaside of Miri town.

Next, the programme is arranged by the folks behind No Black Tie of Kuala Lumpur. The festival director Evelyn Hii is the founder of the famous jazz club that has seen a healthy stream of visiting famed musicians pass through, placing jazz prominently on the Malaysian map. Incidentally,  Hii was born in Sarawak.

Third, it will be a three day event for the very first time. Borneo Jazz typically features recognised musicians from local and international jazz scenes over two days, and this year will be no different all through a mega weekend, from Friday to Sunday. Around 30 bands or acts can be enjoyed through if one gets the entire festival pass.

A wide repertoire of jazz genres can be expected at Borneo Jazz 2018 with international acts from Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan along with Asian jazz greats. Check out the programme here.

Performers at Borneo Jazz 2018

Borneo Jazz 2018 will have high energy and versatile performers with internationally acclaimed artistes such as the Swiss-French ensemble Chris Stalk Quartet, Italian vocalist Cecilia Brunori, Chinese saxophonist Gaoyang Li, multi-talented Polish artist Grzegorz Karnas, Cuban band Havana Social Club featuring Lazaro Numa.

 Elvira Arul at Borneo Jazz 2018

Elvira Arul at Borneo Jazz 2018

Acclaimed Asian performers include Jeremy Monteiro, Singapore's 'King of Swing'; Az Samad, a guitarist, composer, and educator who has recorded with Flaco Jiménez and Max Baca; KL’s own soul queen Elvira Arul; and the iconic Michael Veerapen.

Jeremy Monteiro will be leading the 18-piece Jazz Association of Singapore Orchestra (JASSO) on Friday night.

Jazz vocalist Cecilia Brunori will entertain on Sunday night. Cecilia Brunori’s repertoire of performances ranges from performing at festivals in Italy including one of the largest jazz festivals in the world, Umbria Jazz Festival.

She is currently working on an album with a well-known jazz pianist and composer, Danilo Rea.

Every night, post concert, a jam session will be held. Especially on Saturday, following Havana Social Club’s gig at 11:45 pm, make your way to the jam venue at 1 am to mingle with the performers.

What has not changed about Borneo Jazz is its outreach programme, where aspiring musicians can learn the basics of jazz musical instruments from professional musicians.

Watch and listen to the winning Borneo participants of the Borneo Jazz Talent Search on Sunday. 

So there you go, these are the three reasons to go to Borneo Jazz 2018. Do you know of any more? Add them here by leaving a comment!

30264407_802404979946305_3676625069306061851_n.jpg

While You Are At Borneo Jazz 2018…

The Festival includes night performances with sitting and dancing areas and a wide lawn for night picnics surrounded by arts, crafts and food stalls.

As a resort city, Miri offers a wide range of accommodation from international class hotels to budget inns, good beaches and dozens of lively restaurants, pubs and bars.

Visitors going to this cosmopolitan city of Miri can visit the Lambir Hills, the historical Niah National Park located just an hour or two away respectively. Check out the Piasau Nature Reserve and the reforestation story by jazz musicians.

And if you are a scuba diver, the dive sites in the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park beckons. The nearest dive site is a mere 15-min away, just off the coast of the city.

For more information, visit the Borneo Jazz website at https://jazzborneo.com/

Fly to Kuching or Mulu for other true Sarawakian cultural and adventure holidays.

 

 

 

i Light Marina Bay 2018: Plastic Waste Reinvented as Art

Singapore’s signature light art festival will run from 9 March to 1 April 2018 with sustainability as a major theme. The showcase of 22 local and international light art installations will take place in Marina Bay and Esplanade Park.

Environmental & Social Responsibility at Singapore Writers Festival

Environmental & Social Responsibility at Singapore Writers Festival

From eco-poetry, social consciousness to civic imagination in the midst of dystopia, the Singapore Writers Festival had poets, writers, illustrators, filmmakers and literary critics come together to deal with urgent global and contemporary issues.

Tai-Chi, Yoga, Fitness & Culture - Highlights of Rainforest World Music Festival 2017

Sarawak’s headliner tourism attraction – the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) – will include Tai-Chi, yoga, and other health and fitness activities. Music tourism. Cultural Tourism.

Highlights of Rainforest World Music Festival 2016

From kiddy workshops, traditional crafts, spontaneous music workshops to energetic stage performances by international artistes - here are a few highlights of the one and only Rainforest World Music Festival 2016. By Mallika Naguran

Singapore 7 July 2016. The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) brings together renowned world music artistes from around the world including indigenous musicians from the heart of Borneo. The all-day-long festival for all ages takes place this year from Friday 5 August to Sunday 7 August 2016 at the Sarawak Cultural Village, Santubong. Kuching, Sarawak.

 The acclaimed Cimarron from Colombia will get you dancing with its rippling "joropo"!

The acclaimed Cimarron from Colombia will get you dancing with its rippling "joropo"!

This year’s acts include bands such as Shanren from China, Auli from Latvia, Torgeir Vassvik from Norway, Chouk Bwa Libete from Haiti, Cimarron from Colombia, Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band from Ghana and many more.

A must watch gig would be Violons Barbares, which brings together a rare mix of traditions from Mongolia, Bulgaria and France. Look out for Dandarvaaching Enkhjargal on the morin khoor and jaw dropping overtone singing!

RWMF is most loved for its fun formula of interactive workshops, ethno-musical jamming sessions and mini concerts in the afternoon… prior to the actual show itself at night. To loyal fans of RWMF, the afternoon sessions are most entertaining, often making it the highlight of the festival itself.

Local and international food and drink can be purchased at the festival grounds. There will also be an arts and crafts area - get a temporary tattoo there! Buy festival memorabilia, Sarawak souvenirs and CDs by the performing artists. 

 Rare chance to hear rare voices and blends of traditions at RWMF, especially with Violons Barbares.

Rare chance to hear rare voices and blends of traditions at RWMF, especially with Violons Barbares.

So yes, we are talking about festivity and feasts at the Sarawak Cultural Village from afternoon to past midnight. So bring lots of cash - Malaysian ringgit of course, although credit/debit cards may be accepted by certain merchants.

Something for Mom & Dad… and the Kids

There will also be fringe events to highlight Sarawak culture namely the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar and the Food and Village Mart, where one can purchase the local arts, crafts and cuisine of Borneo, as well as the Borneo Tattoo Expo at Damai Central, where one can see the traditional tribal tattoos of the indigenous tribes of Sarawak.

Look out for Pustaka Bookaroo, an event which combines music, stories and crafts from around the world for children aged between seven and 12.

RWMF Gets Bigger on Local Sounds

This year at the RWMF, eight Malaysian groups will share the stage with 26 international artistes.

 Alena Murang sings as she plays the sape bringing the oral tradition of the Kenyah and Kelabit people from Ulu Baram alive.

Alena Murang sings as she plays the sape bringing the oral tradition of the Kenyah and Kelabit people from Ulu Baram alive.

Five artistes and groups from Sarawak will be featured, including sape maestros Alena Murang and Mathew Ngau Jau, Gendang Melayu Sri Buana, Thunder Beats of Nanyang Wushu Drums, as well as a performers from the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Two bands from Peninsular Malaysia, 1Drum.org and the Unique Arts Academy and the Band Girls of Sabah State Cultural Board will also take the stage.

“We are proud to provide a stage for our own talented performers to shine, showing that we too have leaders and groundbreakers in World Music as a genre.” says Angelina Patricia Bateman, Director of Corporate Communications, Sarawak Tourism Board and Project Director of the festival.

Local and international treats await you at this year's most unique Rainforest World Music Festival. Don't delay anymore - plan your trip today.

Visit the Official Website for more information: http://www.rwmf.net/

Visit RWMF Facebook

How to get your tickest for RWMF?

Practical tips for festival goers at RWMF

Threatened dialects revived at RWMF

Rainforest World Music Festival 2015 Brings Memories

The 18th edition of the festival on the weekend of 7th to 9th of August 2015 will be set among lush forest greenery, crowned by the lofty Mount Santubong.

Beto Jamaica Rey Vallenato in Rainforest World Music Festival

Sarawak’s top musical event, the Rainforest World Music Festival 2013, featured Colombian folklore music performed by accordianist Alberto (Beto) Jamaica and Vallenato ensemble. An exclusive by Mallika Naguran.

CausewayEXchange 2011 Bridges Art and Culture Between Singapore and Malaysia

Singapore and Malaysia find a common ground in the arts through a unique cultural expose called CausewayEXchange. The flavours of Singapore in the form of photo exhibition, theatre and film productions will drift over the causeway bridges to be staged at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre @ Sentul Park (KLPAC) over three days, beginning 4 August 2011.

Rainforest World Music Festival 2011 Showcases Record 22 Performing Acts

Once again the magic of Sarawak's iconic Rainforest World Music Festival has begun. World Music lovers from around the world can look forward to an incredible line-up of world class acts among the 22 bands - the highest in its 14 years of existence. Presented by Sarawak Tourism Board, the RWMF has a reputation for rocking the worlds of concert-goers, folk instrument aficionados and plain fun seekers over three days.

Kadayawan Festival Celebrates Mindanao Indigenous Cultures

In 1986, the government initiated a program called “Unlad Proyekto Davao,” whose main objective was to unite the Dabawenyos after the turbulent Martial Law era. The festivity was called “Apo Duwaling,” in honor of the three royalties for which Davao is famous for.

Singapore River Festival 2010 Celebrates History, Heritage With Aerial and Water Shows

The Singapore River Festival will put on nine nights of performances from 25 June to 3 July 2010 of music, fashion shows and non-stop partying. Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Robertson Quay and Empress Place have come together to oversee this year’s festival. Now that's one long river! All “to develop Singapore River into a must-visit destination for locals and visitors.” said Ms Ranita Sundramoorthy, Deputy Director of Arts & Entertainment at the Singapore Tourism Board. This is Singapore's third annual festival celebrating life about and around the river.

Rainforest World Music Festival 2010 to Feature 20 International Artistes from 9-11 July

This year’s Rainforest World Music Festival will see 20 international bands performing at the foothills of the legendary Mount Santubong in Kuching, Sarawak from 9 to 11 July 2010.

Miri International Jazz Festival: What's All That Jazz?

There was lightheartedness and mirth all around on day one of the 5th Miri International Jazz Festival as artistes tackled questions from local and international media during the morning’s press conference. The two-day festival is being held on Friday 14 May 2010 and Saturday 15 May 2010 at the Park City Everly Hotel beachfront in the quaint city of Miri, Sarawak of course.

Miri International Jazz Festival 2010 Features James Cotton Blues Band, New Orleans All Stars, Ricardo Herz, Amina Figarova and Other Top Jazz and Blues Artistes

Miri International Jazz Festival 2010 Features James Cotton Blues Band, New Orleans All Stars, Ricardo Herz, Amina Figarova and Other Top Jazz and Blues Artistes. Happening in Miri, Sarawak on 14,15 May 2010.

Claire Chiang on Culture and Conservation in Children's Literature

Claire Chiang speaks about the need for more cultural and conservation content for children. She is the chairperson of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content advisory board.

Gardon, Jouhikko, Nyckelharpa, Sape, Bamboo Pipes: World Music Celebration

Rainforest music festival highlights the sounds of cello-beating, hurdy gurdies and mouth organs.

By Michael Switow

SARAWAK, Malaysia — Nestled at the base of Mount Santubong, in a land made famous by the head-hunters, who only decades ago still fought here for honor, a Kenyah elder holds a dagger in his right hand and a hand-carved wooden shield in his left. He moves quickly, genuinely shocking his foe, a bare-chested Maori warrior, who moments earlier was intensely focused on the crowd in front of him.

Bats fly overhead.

Matthew Ngau is an artist and sculptor who rarely leaves his forested Borneo home and Te Hira Paenga is in training to become an Anglican minister, when he's not performing the Hakka and other traditional arts.

Only on the stage of the Rainforest World Music Festival is it likely that these two men would cross weapons. Cross-cultural surprises and jam sessions define this three-day festival, created 12 years ago to introduce Sarawakian musicians to the world and world musicians to Malaysia.

The festival also likely presents the world's best showcase of indigenous instruments.

“I'm looking to excite, amaze, enjoy, have a good time and also educate a little bit,” says artistic director and festival co-founder Randy Raine-Reusch. “This is a voyage of discovery for the audience. I want concert-goers to say `WOW, I've never seen that before!'”

The festival features an eclectic mix of bands including American country & bluegrass, East African drumming, Indonesian gamelan, Portuguese hard rock and Korean shamanistic tunes rarely heard outside traditional ceremonies. But every group has one common trait: each integrates indigenous instruments into its music. Some instruments have exotic names like the sumpoton, a free-reed mouth organ made with a calabash and bamboo pipes by villagers in northeast Borneo, or the hurdy gurdy, a European fiddle popular during the Renaissance which is played not with a bow but by cranking an attached wheel. Others like the Swedish nyckelharpa — an elongated fiddle with sixteen strings and an overlay of wooden pegs to control the pitch — are even more bizarre in appearance.

“These instruments are disappearing and I want that culture to survive,” explains Raine-Reusch, who plays hundreds of instruments as well. “I want to hear what that culture sounded like on the real thing. I'm not interested in hearing Balkan music on an electric guitar. I want to hear authenticity, even if it is in fusion music.”

Raine-Reusche estimates there are more than 5,000 instruments in the world — and that's if you don't count all the bells and rattles. Throw those into the mix and the count tops 10,000. At this year's Rainforest festival, 17 bands performed, yet only six used a guitar, well, seven if you count the one made from bamboo by Kinabalu Merdu Sound. Even fewer had a drum set.

Instead of drums, the Hungarian group Muszikas uses a gardon, an instrument that at first glance appears more suited to a string ensemble. The gardon player sets the tempo by hitting the instrument's strings with a stick. This “cello-beating” technique must have been tiring for traditional Hungarian musicians who earned their living by playing up to 40 hours non-stop at wedding parties.

This is not a festival of purists. Don't be fooled by the instruments. More than 20,000 music-lovers flock to the Sarawak Cultural Village each year for the Rainforest World Music Festival. Teenagers (and the not-so-young) dance for hours, but instead of partying to guitars, bass and drums, the mainstay of most pop bands, they jam to the sounds of the sapé, llimba and jouhikko.

(The sapé is a four-stringed instrument from Borneo whose lyrical melodies belie its cricket bat shape. llimba is an African thumb-piano, traditionally played by herders to mark their distance travelled. Jouhikko is a Finnish word, pronounced “yo-hee-ko”, for horsehair and Europe's oldest bowed instrument. )

“The tunes we are playing were really very cool two to three hundred years ago,” says jouhikko player Pekko Kappi. “We're still kind of shaking a little bit from how much fun we had,” says American musician Jeff Burke of the Jeff & Vida Band. “First of all, it's kind of packed here tonight, so there's a sea of people, in the middle of one of the most pristine areas that we've ever played a concert in. And the crowd here responds to what we do and music in general totally different than an American crowd would.”

Fans weaved a conga line through the crowd and sang along with every chorus, even though the tunes sung by Vida Wakeman in a raspy southern voice were original compositions they had never heard before.

“In the States, there's an etiquette, especially in bluegrass music” Burke explains. “ You sit quietly and listen and even if you love it and it's the best thing you've ever heard, you'll be quiet and when the song is over, you'll clap real loud and then stop really quickly so that the next song can happen, which always seemed nice until now, because it seems much more fun to have a crowd like this who kind of really throws themselves into the experience.”

Editors note: Visit our video section and picture gallery for more pictures and music from the event