World Music Legends, Asian Fusionistas and Global Jam July 12 at 2009 Rainforest World Music Festival

Zawose Family
Zawose Family at the 2009 Rainforest World Music Festival – Photo by Angel Romero


The third and last day of the 2009 Rainforest World Music Festival started with the daily press conference at 11 am with Malaysian band Asika, Polish group St. Nicholas Orchestra, Korean ensemble Noreum Machi, French Gypsy-wing combo Poum Tchack and Finnish quartet Jouhiorkesteri. A second press conference was held at Sarawak Cultural Village with the Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Sarawak, YB Datuk Michael Manyin anak Jawong, festival chairman Ben Jimbau and festival PR director Letitia Samuel. Minister Jawong confirmed that this year’s festival met the goals of the organizers.

Malaysian fusionistas AkashA are a clear example of Malaysia’s exciting multicultural society. The group includes musicians of various ethnicities: Malay, Indian, Chinese and Australian. AkashA combines Indian classical, Malay, Latin and western elements, creating an attractive and explosive mix. AkashA is only a one year old and has great potential.

Red Chamber, the Chinese string ensemble, that had performed two days earlier, returned for a second concert, bringing together Chinese, North American and Eastern European string music traditions.

Legendary Chilean group Inti Illimani is one of the oldest world music acts in the international scene. The band’s line-up and musical direction has experienced numerous changes throughout the years. The current version of Inti Illimani keeps the Andean music flame alive, although the group has evolved and now incorporates Afro-Peruvian and Afro-Cuban rhythms  as well as elements of jazz and contemporary acoustic music.

Another renowned group came next, Hungarian quartet Muzsikas, bringing fiddle excellence and the lively dance music of Hungarians living in Hungary, Transylvania and other parts of Europe.


Muzsikas - Photo by Angel Romero
Muzsikas at the 2009 Rainforest World Music Festival – Photo by Angel Romero


The last performer scheduled that night was Zawose Family from the Bagamoyo region of Tanzania. The desecendants of the late Dr. Hukwe Zawose are keeping the tradition alive with their spectacular concerts featuring thumb piano (chilimba and ilimba), female drummers and energetic dancing.

That was not the last concert of the night. The Zawose Family remained on stage and played a steady rhythm while all the festival performers were named and walked into the stage, playing brief examples of their music. After that, a monumental musical jam took place, combining global rhythms and melodies. The celebration ended at midnight.

The 2009 edition Rainforest World Music Festival was a memorable experience and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring new world music festivals, the music of Asia and a visually attractive natural environment.

While in Sarawak, you may want to visit the Semengoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. This is a wildlife sanctuary that rescues orphaned or illegally acquired animals like the orangutan, sun bears, gibbons, and hornbills. Other places worth visiting include the Gunung Gading National Park,

Bako National Park, Fairy & Wind Cave, Sarawak River Cruises and Jong’s Crocodile Farm.

As far as shopping, look for batik clothing and fabrics, pepper (the spice) corns and carvings.

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Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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