Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Memories of the 18th Rainforest World Music Festival

Wow, the Rainforest World Music Festival is 18 years old this year.  This festival really started from very humble beginnings.  The RWMF started with one stage, can you imagine that just one stage.  At the time the number of people who attended the festival was around maybe 300 plus.  I was told that most of the audience were the crew.  Today the festival has grown by leaps and bounds.  From one stage, there are now three stages namely Jungle Stage, Tree Stage and the new addition Theater Stage.  Theater Stage was added just last year.  From 300 festival goers, the number has increased significantly, how many you might ask?  Well, I was told that on Saturday night, the tickets were sold out!  That's a huge difference.

I was fortunate to be a part of this festival again this year.  I feel a certain pride when I say that, mainly because this is an International Event that's held here in my home town.  Each year the RWMF brings together different musicians and bands from all over the world for a three day festival.  Over the three days, we all get a chance to listen, enjoy and experience the music and culture of each band.  As they take to the different stages, they share with us their music, some passed down from their ancestors, some they fused with modern compositions and many with the hope that their music will continued to be enjoyed for years to come.  This is something I've mentioned many many times leading up to this festival, about how unique this festival truly is.

I usually try and take as many shots as possible during the festival but this year the festival was a little busier than usual for me.  I did take a few shots here and there but I think the majority of the shots came from Theater Stage.

However, I did have a few minutes to take in the beautiful view that greeted me every morning before the day got underway and I have said it before, it's not a bad way to start your day.
This is the view that greeted me each and every morning.  I loved it.  Truly lovely.  Like I mentioned, it's not a bad way to start your day.
Yeah one could get really comfortable with all this but I had work to do, after a quick breakfast, I was off to meet the bands and interview them.  I had a few short hours to talk to the bands and then get ready to go to Theater Stage.  Theater Stage was first introduced last year to give festival goers a concert hall performance, a more intimate experience, different from the Jungle and Tree Stages.  Theater Stage would be the stage for you if you wanted to really soak in an afternoon of music in a more intimate atmosphere, hence the concert hall setting.

The first band to perform at Theater Stage this year was a family band led by by multi-instrumentalist Jan Mailsz. The band is inspired by the traditional music of Beskid Niski and Pogorze, in South Poland.  For their performance Jan was joined by his children Casper who is 16 years old and Zuzanna who is 12 years old.  Together they are Kapela Maliszow.
Now you may be wondering, why am I using a pic from the RWMF website?  Well, this is what happens when you become enthralled with a performance, yep you forget to take pictures.  For the entire performance I was a festival goer and I sat down with the audience that Friday afternoon to enjoy the music from this very talented family and to see such young musicians on stage performing traditional  music from their homeland was quite an experience.  
The second band to perform on Theater Stage that Friday afternoon was from Georgia. This band was founded in December, 2014. Consisting of four members, the ensemble is specialized in authentic Georgian traditional folk music. They are also members of ethno jazz band Iriao, and independently they work as conductors and leaders in different male folk choirs.

The ensemble repertoire includes traditional musical masterpieces and church chants from different regions of Georgia, starting from the very east to the west, and differs significantly according to its complication. Besides, the ensemble performs on the most traditional folk instruments including string, wind and percussion instruments.

To listen to Alaverdi was just mesmerizing.  For their performance all four members were impeccably dressed in what I would guess is their traditional Georgian wear.  They looked regal and their performance was just absolutely mesmerizing.  Before they went on stage, I mentioned that Georgian Polyphonic Singing was one of the items included in a Capsule launched into space a few years ago.  If there are other lifeforms out there, one of the many things they will experience first will be Georgian Polyphonic Singing from Alaverdi.
That afternoon, apart from the workshops taking place throughout the various houses ie: The Iban Long House, The Malay house and so on, the Theater Stage was packed almost to capacity.  You could tell that the people who came to Theater Stage really enjoyed the performances from Alaverdi and Kapela Maliszow.  When you're sitting in a crowd, immersed in beautiful music and you forget to take pictures, then you know you're listening to something..special.  Each performance ended with the crowd showing their appreciation with a thunderous applause and shouts of Bravo! Bravo!  It was a unique afternoon on the first day of the 18th Rainforest World Music Festival.  

It was a really surreal experience for me to be sitting in a concert hall setting in the rainforest listening to such beautiful world music and that was just the start of Day 1.  The evening performances would start later that Friday at 7.30pm on the Jungle and Tree Stages.  

The performances on Day 1 started with the traditional Miring Ceremony from the Iban Community of Sarawak.  The ceremony is a traditional blessing ceremony followed by a performance from the Sarawak Cultural Village.  It was a great start to the evening, just wish I had taken more pictures of the whole thing but I was a little busy.

The evening performances, the workshops, all the side events were all highlights of this truly unique festival but when I walked out of the Theater Stage that afternoon, I felt they did the right thing, which is adding another highlight to this festival.  I was looking forward to the performance at 7.30 the next evening but also the Theater Stage the next day.

Many thanks to the Sarawak Tourism Board for the use of some of the pics featured here on the Borneo Broadcast.  for more on what took place this year for the RWMF, go to

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