GEORGE TOWN, July 21 — The annual George Town Festival (GTF) is back for the eighth year and opens next week with a spectacular musical showcase at Svara Asean and all things Asean.
Svara Asean, held on July 28 and 29, will feature six of Southeast Asian musicians and singers; the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Gus Teja who is the lead musician of leading Balinese music group Gus Teja World Music, Anchee-Manasanun Aksornteang from Thailand, Penang Philharmonic Orchestra and Malaysian artists, Adibah Noor and Sean Ghazi.
Also during the opening weekend, from July 28 to 30, is an Asean Design Forum, Macam-Macam Asean, Chorus, a talk on Malay magic and divination, Journey to George Town, Livin’ La Vida Imelda, and a workshop and talk by photographer Jimmy Nelson.
The Asean Design forum brings together leading designers such as Eric Bunnag Booth from Jim Thompson, The Thai Silk Company from Bangkok, Priscilla Shunmugan of womenswear label Ong Shunmugam, furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, and illustrator Sali Sasaki.
The forum will be held at UAB Building on July 29 and those interested need to register for it.
The Macam-Macam Asean, at the Penang state museum in Macalister Road on July 29 and 30, is a market that features traditional Asean performing arts, Asean food and a craft and creative market.
There will be a Star Wars-inspired wayang kulit called Peperangan Bintang, a Potehi performance on Kisah Pulau Pinang, and Gus Teja World Music.
Laksa lovers will get to feast on Laksa of the Region with 24 stalls featuring laksa from Johor, Sarawak, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia alongside Penang’s famed assam laksa. The laksa is not free though but prices will be affordable so leave room to feast on as many variety as possible.
The Craft and Creative Market will feature interesting vendors such as Monkey Tattoo Studio known for its traditional tribal tattoos, Bingka KL which sells silkscreen-printed home decor products and accessories, Embee Designs that sells creatively illustrated clothes, Veron Sung with her hand-coloured photo designs and Son & Dad Barber Shop.
Festival director Joe Sidek said this year they will also launch a specially commissioned book called GT80 illustrated by Vanessa Ho.
“The book is on 80 things in George Town, old things, heritage things, local things, it’s a watercolour guidebook on all these things in George Town that are beautifully illustrated by Vanessa Ho,” he said.
Not to be missed during the opening weekend is Chorus, which is a kinetic and sound machine installation by award-winning British composer Ray Lee.
The installation is open free for visitors at Dewan Sri Pinang on July 28 and 29 from 8pm — 8.30pm and on August 5 and 6 from 7.30pm to 8pm.
Joe also called on corporate sponsors to step forward to sponsor tickets to the performances in the festival for the community.
“This is to encourage the community and to inspire the local community through the arts and these performances because not everyone can afford to go to all of these performance even though our tickets are reasonably priced starting from RM25,” he said.
GTF 2017 is from July 28 to September 3. Find out more about the list of events for the festival at georgetownfestival.com.