Hybrid for the first time in Malaysian festival history, the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) is back this year to celebrate its 25th year with more heart-racing, foot-stomping world rhythms from June 17-19. Themed ‘Legendary Rainforest Celebration’, this year’s RWMF will return to the Sarawak Cultural Village for the full festival experience, and simultaneously be livestreamed around the world. It will feature 60 performers from a host of countries including Korea, Canada, China, India, Mexico and almost everywhere in between.
Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor, who announced this at a press conference here yesterday, said this year will see more individual acts than ever before on the rainforest stage – some live at the Sarawak Cultural Village and some beamed in by the power of modern technology.
“This year, among others, we are joined by Bluguru from Australia, who set the soundwaves singing with their incredible blend of musical styles from Bluegrass to Blues, Indian to Celtic, Swing, Jazz and adventure too.
“The audience can enjoy the rapid switches from one genre and one instrument to another, backed by soaring vocal harmonies, blistering guitar and fiddle.
“We also feature Timo Väänänen, the leading exponent of Finland’s national instrument, the kantele. He will seamlessly blend the traditional model with the modern, electrical 39-string version to give the Sarawak audience a taste of a haunting and unique sound which has graced film, 25 albums and five solo CDs,” she pointed out.
Sharzede said for those watching RWMF from home, online viewers will get a two-hour experience nightly of RWMF through their own dedicated platform, combining livestream of the action at the Sarawak Cultural Village with original curated content. She said individuals just need to sign up for one hour at RM25, then extend for another when the rhythm moves them. She added that they could just book two hours in advance over all three evenings.
“Expect the same grand performances from global acts, but this time alternating with curated original video material, showing a range of local and international performers in their own environments.
“We are also able to showcase a unique range of acts which might never have previously been able to stage a whole set. Meet Sarawak’s cultural practitioners of purposeful sound – our chanters, drummers, and pratuokng players, all at home,” she said.
Sharzede said this year is a celebration but it is also about legacy building, with Randy Raine Reusch, originator of RWMF, returning to the stage and behind the scenes – the guiding hand of the artistic content.
“He is joined by two rising stars of Sarawak music, Alena Murang and Bob Meldrick of At Adau, as Randy passes the baton to the next generation of musicians who grew up with this festival.
“Our two Sarawak performers share their award-winning experience of video production and international travel with the next set of performers to appear on the stage that first welcomed them,” she added.
RWMF workshops, she said, often the highlight and defining feature of the festival, continue this year. She said these workshops will bring together diverse musicians from many disciplines, drawing together these talents under unifying themes to showcase, jam and create unique music in the setting of the Sarawak Cultural Village.
“Our Friday will kick off this year with our ‘Sape Gathering’. We are calling together anyone who can strum a Sape in Sarawak to get together for a grand sape jam.
“This year, we have a kiddie’s workshop to bring on the next generation where they can play with instruments, create art and enjoy the festival ground to their hearts’ contents,” she said.
Early Bird ticket sale is happening now until May 14 for both the physical and virtual concerts. Those interested in the physical concert can grab tickets in the different categories – Adult 1-Day Pass (RM150), Adult 3-Day Pass (RM375), Child 1-Day Pass (RM80), Child 3-Day Pass (RM155) and 1-Day Family Package Pass – two adults and two children (RM400). The physical tickets are available for purchase via rwmf.net.
The virtual blocks will feature handpicked artistes that will showcase the allure of world music from both Sarawak and the international stage. Audiences can choose to buy the virtual block of one hour each depending on their preferred lineup. Virtual tickets will be sold at a later date which will be announced soon. Enjoy Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2022!