KUCHING: It was a spectacular finale at this year’s 18th Rainforest World Music festival (RWMF), with seven international groups playing their beats throughout Sunday night.
Ndima from Congo Brazzaville, kicked off the evening with their intricate polyphonic singing, before dancing to the sounds of traditional instruments such as mouth bows and drums made from hollowed-out tree trunks.
The excitement continued with members of Ndima, who are of the Aka Pygmies tribe, being joined on stage by Mah Meri, which is an ensemble of Orang Asli (Aborigines) from Carey Island.
Both groups presented a collaboration called ‘Sound of the Forests’, filled with the sounds of their instruments and dances.
Proceeding after that was a group of 16 young men from Maldives who called themselves Harubee, performing the ‘Boduberu’ music, which evolved from the tunes brought in by sailors from parts of Africa in the 11th century.
The energetic lot not only got the audience going with their lively drumming and dancing, but also exhibited national pride as they distributed free T-shirts and Maldivian flags throughout the performance.
On the other hand, the frontman of a band from Basque Country received nods of approval as he attempted to speak Malay with the spectators.
Korrontzi’s Agus Barandiaran presented a simple introduction in Malay and throughout their show, finished each with ‘terima kasih’ (thank you).
In return, he taught those watching some simple Basque phrases.
Barandiaran led their medley with a ‘trikitixa’ – a diatonic accordion which was once banned by the Catholic Church, which regarded the instrument as the ‘Wind of Hell’.
Korrontzi also played other traditional Basque instruments such as the ‘alboka’ (single-reed woodwind piece) and mandolin, of which tunes were beautifully accompanied by the moves of a dancing couple.
The show moved on with the ethnic musical styling of Sarawak-own Sayu Ateng and in-house artistes of Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) – the hosting venue of the festival.
Another feature of the night was Kobagi Kecak of Bali, Indonesia, which members even engaged RWMF musicians and revellers to take part in the ‘Tarian Kecak’ – a ritual-originated mass dance peculiar to Bali that involves perfectly synchronised chanting, movement of hands and bodies.
The organisers obviously saved the best for last, bringing in the Maloya band, Lindigo of the Reunion Islands to ‘adjourn’ the festival with a spectacular bang.
The Maloya was once secretly played among the slaves working in sugar plantations of La Reunion many years ago.
In 2009, it was listed under Unesco’s ‘Representative Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
The medley performed by Lindigo was indeed funky and upbeat, generously peppered with African beats and samba shakes.
The French-speaking group members even managed to teach the audience how to dance like them – although such lesson should come with a warning for those with arthritis!
The showcase concluded with all performers and musicians going on stage and taking a bow, in recognition of all those who had made this year’s festival a success – including the spectators
The annual event is supported by the state Tourism Ministry, as well as the federal Tourism and Culture Ministry, with endorsement from Tourism Malaysia.
The 19th edition of RWMF is scheduled for July 22-24 next year.