Rainforest World Music Festival - Review

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Event: Rainforest World Music Festival
Location: Sarawak Cultural Village, Santubong (near Kuching, capital of Sarawak)
Date: 10 - 12 July 2009

The first thing I noticed about the Rainforest World Music Festival was the quite stunning setting, the surroundings of the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong, just 45 minutes drive from Kuching.


There are few music festivals in the world that claim to have an immediate environment that is quite so lovely. There is the lush vegetation, the quiet calm aura, the authentic reproductions of the traditional wooden huts and longhouses of the various Sarawak ethnic tribes, and towering up behind it all is the Gunung Santubong (Mount Santubong) - rising steeply from sea level to 2,658 feet ! (bring your hiking boots if you're up for a jolly climbing jaunt before or after the festival).




Music "workshops" start at 2pm each day continue until 5pm. They take place at 3 different sites within the cultural village: The Theatre, Dewan Lagenda, and the Iban Longhouse.


The first one we visited featured "Gypsy" music with bands from France, Hungary and Poland each introducing their instruments, their music and where it originated, and playing a few songs infront of an enthusiastic audience before all the bands joined together and embark, in the final act, in the RWMF's signature jamming sessions


Those jamming sessions, and the enthusiasm of the audiences, were the second and third things I noticed about the Rainforest World Music Festival.

Throughout the grounds the atmosphere was just perfect. People were ready to have a good time and to really listen to and appreciate the music, which is traditional, sometimes ancient music sometimes played on instruments you've never seen before, let alone heard.

The bands have flown in from different parts of the world, each representing a musical heritage and traditional styles, from China, Chile, Canada, Hungary, USA, France, New Zealand, Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia, Korea, Tanzania, Portugal, and more. The jamming sessions are planned but not rehearsed i.e. the musicians who sit in on the workshops know that they will be jamming with each other, but they jam together for the first time ever.

These spontaneous jams were like alchemy. The jams never lasted long but they were magical at times: We were witnessing the creation of new music before our very own eyes.

From 7pm onwards the main event is ready to roll, and people start making their way from the food and beverage tents to the main stage.


The party goes on until midnight each night.
And there are plenty of drinks for the thirsty ;)

Its not pop, or rock or whatever is new and "trendy". It was better than that. And the vibe around the festival was pure magic.

- Booking flights and hotels early because they get booked up quickly
- Going for the whole weekend, Friday to Sunday (flying in on Thurs and out on Mon)
- Attending the workshops from 2 - 5pm
- Staying in one of the hotels near the festival site, or at the festival site itself in one of the longhouses
- Visiting Kuching city, strolling around the waterfront bazaar and visiting the museums

Don't recommend:
- Staying in Kuching and commuting to and from the festival everyday


I'll gear this review to two of my sites. I'll think everyone else will enjoy this :).

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This page contains a single entry by Ywan Carraz published on July 18, 2009 2:38 PM.

Heart of Borneo needs extra monitoring was the previous entry in this blog.

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