Borneo Jazz (Miri – Sarawak) – The second encounter with music in Borneo could not have started better. The first surprise we got in Miri was to see us hosted in one of the best, if not the best, hotel in the city: the Pullman Miri Waterfront. The room was beautiful and spacious, and overlooking everything there was to overlook at. But that was only the beginning. The real experience, the emotions, the fun and the shows began a few hours later at Coco Cabana. This is less than 4 km from our hotel, the location where Borneo Jazz came to life. Sarawak Tourism Board provided the transfers with an efficient shuttle service.
Minister Press Conference
A note of merit must be spent to the the Sarawak Tourism Board, the organiser of this event, as well as of the Rainforest World Music Festival and of other events designed to drive the growth of tourism in the state of Sarawak, in the Malaysian Borneo. I need to highlight their efforts to restart two such demanding events, separated from each other by only 4 days and about 800 km away, after two years of break due to the Covid pandemic. These guys have actually worked miracles and allowed us to experience these two important musical spaces. Thus, after a short press conference held by the Minister of Tourism of Creative Industries and Arts of Sarawak, Honorable Dato Sri Haji Abd Karim Rahman Hamzah, the seventeenth edition of this creative event begun.
But Borneo Jazz, as announced by the presenter of the initial evening, does not only give space to jazz but also to other musical genres represented by international and local performers. As it often happen in the music sector, Borneo Jazz opens to local traditions and instruments – which easily find space in this type of event. This is evidenced by the permanent exhibition dedicated to the most famous and loved musical instrument in the region: the Sape. This is a kind of lute shaped like a boat (hence the name of the exhibition: Borneo Boat Lute Revival Exhibition).
Moreover, in the characteristic setting of the Coco Cabana, overlooking the ocean, and as if looking at sunsets was not enough, Borneo Jazz allows you to immerse yourself in a specific oriental culture. As if the one of a Borneo that is still not sufficiently known in our world, and that certainly deserves some in-depth analysis.
Music, fashion, tradition and holistic practices
So let’s deepen our knowledge of the Sape, in short workshops in which the instrument is presented to those who are eager to know more, or in sessions were it is applied to yoga. Let’s become acquainted with the world of tribal tattoos, in an environment where they do not represent fashion but a tradition with very specific and distinct meanings according to the various tribes present in Sarawak. And let’s get to know about the local culture, that here is not represented only by the various musical genres, but also by the symbols, customs and food of a people who, while moving towards the future, do so without cutting ties with its past. Because, it’s evident, flowers cannot sprout without roots.