July 11, 2008

PM, Jeanne for Rainforest Music Festival Opening

By Desmond Davidson

KUCHING: The Rainforest World Music Festival week has returned.

And for the next three days, from today, the Sarawak Cultural Village tucked at the foot of Mount Santubong, about 50km from here, will be the cynosure of ethnic and folk music fans the world over.

Attending the opening of the event's 11th edition tonight will be Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Datin Paduka Seri Jeanne Abdullah.

Abdullah's presence is set to create history of sorts as he will be the first prime minister to attend the festival.

The prime minister and his wife are expected here in the afternoon. They will then take a helicopter from Kuching International Airport for the short hop to Damai Puri Spa and Resort in Santubong. where they will put up for the night.

The resort is a two-minute walk to the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Abdullah and Jeanne are expected to tour the Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar, an accompanying event which is making its debut this year, before settling down to watch SeniDa, the resident cultural troupe of the Sarawak Cultural Village.

The well-travelled SeniDa has thrilled audiences from China to Canada with its Malay dances such as zapin, joget, lakon beradat and keris.

Another Malaysian group set to perform is the Kuala Lumpur-based Indian contemporary group, Akasha.

The bands scheduled to perform on opening night include the New Rope String Band (Britain), Fadomorse (Portugal) and Adel Salameh (Palestine).

Yesterday, Puan Sri Laila Taib, the wife of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, opened the week-long bazaar to start the festival.

The 100-booth bazaar has been filled by craftsmen and artisans from here as well as Denmark, India, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, Japan and Indonesia.

Heidi Munan, the director of the bazaar, described it as the place for craftsmen and artisans of the world "to come together to share and exchange their talent and skills".

The bazaar and the Rainforest Folk Art Forum are two new events planned to enhance the Rainforest World Music Festival.

Despite the sharp rise in ticket prices, sales had reportedly passed the 20,000 mark on Wednesday and the Sarawak Tourism Board, the organiser of the festival, is optimistic of having another sell- out festival.

Tickets this year are priced between RM45, the one-day pass for children below the age of 12, to RM250, the three-day pass for adults.

The Rainforest World Music Festival showcases the talents of some of the world's best and renowned indigenous musicians.

This year, 16 groups, 14 of them foreign, will perform over the next three days.

They were picked from the 462 groups and musicians that had asked to be invited to the festival this year, board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said yesterday.

"The popularity of the festival is such that we are now swamped every year with requests for invitations."

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