Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rainforest World Music Festival

We have just returned from our ‘field trip’ between seminars. For our trip, we traveled to eastern Malaysia to experience the different culture first hand. In addition to enjoying the beaches and unique fauna and flora, we had the opportunity to learn about some of the indigenous peoples of the island of Borneo. One day we visited a Dayak village. They led us through their longhouse-style village, shared their rice wine and taught us to blow darts.

But last night we had the opportunity to attend an annual Rainforest World Music Festival held at the Cultural Village outside of Kuching. For twelve years, this concert series has brought together unique musicians from around the world to celebrate indigenous music. Friday’s lineup included seven bands from Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Poland, China/Canada, and France.

We arrived early enough to attend an afternoon music workshop. Along with Erica, Desmond and Prof. Heng, we headed to the theatre to enjoy the gypsy jam workshop. First, four musicians from the French group Poum Tchack introduced us to some of the music that inspired them. Next, a duo who are members of the Polish St Nicholas Orchestra sang and played a Romanian song. The third group, three men from Muzsidas of Hungary, played a dancing song. Each shared a second piece, then they all played together, listening and adapting as they went. We were so impressed, we bought a few CDs of these bands. Later, we walked by the French musicians and stopped to get our CDs autographed ☺

The actual concert was scheduled to begin on stage 1 at 7:30pm, but as we found a spot to watch, it began to rain. We sat under our umbrellas until we realized it wasn’t going to be a quick, light shower. Most people headed to a pavilion to find shelter, yet still have a view of the stage. Throughout the evening, we went back and forth from here to the grassy area near the stages. Though the rain did let up, all the dancing feet made for a muddy evening! Needless to say, some people opted to go without shoes or lost them in the mud.

Each group was very unique. I particularly enjoyed the choreography of the Korean group Noreummachi. They danced as they played their drums, adding another layer of complexity. It reminded me of my days in the Cornhusker marching band, wishing my friends from the drumline could be present.

My favorite group of the night, however, was Poum Tchack. Though they preformed last, they delivered an exciting show. The mixture of fiddle, guitar, bass and even accordian was awesome! And these guys were definitely entertainers! Though my left flip flop repeatedly stuck in place and I was often splashed with mud, I danced as able and enjoyed the evening.

For music lovers and musicians, I would definitely suggest adding the Rainforest World Music Festival to your travel wish list! I want to come back some year and attend the full event. Each day there are workshops to learn about the unique music from the diverse cultures, as well as opportunities to meet some of these musicians. The event also attracts a diverse crowd, with people from all around the world.

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