August 14, 2019
KUCHING – Sarawak’s headliner tourism attraction, the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) has proven that it is more than just a music festival if this year’s sell-out crowd is anything to go by. A capacity crowd of 23,650 from all parts of the world attended the three-day festival.
This year’s nightly concert was artfully arranged in a seamless and flawless sequence. The 2019 line up featured 30 bands and over 200 performers. From the Chilean island of Rapa Nui in the South Eastern Pacific Ocean, Ballet Folcloric De Chile Bafochi showcased their spectacular costumes and sensual dance moves. From the South West Pacific Ocean, Wai from New Zealand gave mesmerizing performances at the Theatre Stage and at the mini sessions throughout the three-day festival.
Five Sarawakian bands, more than any of the years before, were featured this year. At Adau brought their legions of fans who danced along with their vibrant performance, fusing ancient melodies and rhythms of different tribes. Kemada featured traditional Iban music, games and culture while Suku Menoa presented Iban music, rituals and chants. Staak Bisomu provided a glimpse of the Bidayuh cultural heritage and Suk Binie’s performance was an energetic mix of traditional melodies from various ethnic communities of Sarawak. Darmas, from Malaysia, comprising of six young musicians got the crowd dancing to the rhythms of traditional Malay classics.
While the evening concerts draw in the crowd year in and out, this year saw an increase in audience for the afternoon interactive and education workshops. The same goes to the jamming sessions and mini concerts. There were more than 30 mini sessions held at the Iban longhouse, Bidayuh Terraces and Dewan Lagenda. These traditionally designed venues added to the diverse mix of musicians, to create a unique experience of jam sessions for the audience.
The Emerging Band Stage this year featured nine local bands over the course of the 3-day festival. Their performances were well-received by both local and foreign fesitval goers. Side activities held during the day. The RWMF partners include Friends of Sarawak Museum, Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre.
What About Kuching (WAK) @ RWMF made their debut this year as artists, artisans, poets, sports trainers, and filmmakers from the Kuching community liven up the atmosphere at Damai Central. This multi-purpose recreational complex is located right next to the Sarawak Cultural Village. Certainly, the Sunset Stage was a big draw with a multitude of local bands entertaining the festival goers.
Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) intensified their greening initiatives this year. The biggest impact among these iniatives was from discouraging the use of plastic bottled water. An estimated twenty thousand plastic bottles were saved from the rubbish tip. Festival goers brought their own empty bottles which they could fill from water dispensing stations supplied by Cuckoo. For its waste management strategy, STB worked with Trienekens (waste management authority) and partnered with Spativate (a social enterprise) in coming up with eye-catching designs on waste bins. Biji-Biji, an social enterprise, was on hand to make sure waste was collected for composting. STB also continued the tradition of tree planting and this time, the site was at Pantai Puteri, Santubong Village.
Specially designed garbage bins to encourage proper disposal of litter.Twenty two years ago, the RWMF began as a very small gathering of 300 people. Fast forward to 2019, the festival has gained worldwide recognition and won multiple awards. For the three days at least it was a little too easy to forget that there’s a world outside the festival site.
Next year’s edition of the RWMF will be held from July 10 to 12, 2020.
STB is a winner of the Asia Pacific Excellence Awards 2016 by Asia-Pacific Association of Communications Directors (APACD) and has received the ASEAN PR Excellence Award 2015 Gold Award. The Rainforest World Music Festival is a five-time Top 25 Best International Festivals recognised by Songlines World Music Magazine (2011 – 2015) and won the Golden City Gate 2019 five-star award for the Rainforest World Music Festival’s (RWMF) promotional video.