Sarawak’s Orang Ulu culture gets spotlight at Taiwan’s biggest outdoor world music event

The workshop will be conducted by award-winning Malaysian singer-songwriter and sape player Alena Murang. — Picture via Instagram/Alena Murang
The workshop will be conducted by award-winning Malaysian singer-songwriter and sape player Alena Murang. — Picture via Instagram/Alena Murang

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PETALING JAYA, Oct 27 — Sarawak’s unique Orang Ulu culture has earned a spotlight at Taiwan’s biggest outdoor world music event for the first time ever.

The ethnically diverse tribal groups will be featured in a workshop at the 2021 World Music Festival @Taiwan and will be conducted by award-winning Malaysian singer and sape player Alena Murang, the Sarawak Tourism Board announced today in a press release.

Orang Ulu is the collective term given to 27 small Dayak groups that include the likes of the Kenyah, Penan, Kayan, Murut and Lun Bawang.

Kuching-born Murang will be taking participants through the cultural heritage of the Kelabits, one of the 27 ethnic groups in Sarawak at the workshop which will be held physically and online from October 29 to November 12.

Murang, who is of Kelabit and English-Italian heritage, is known and loved for her world music inspired by her experiences of growing up indigenous in an urban environment.

In July, Murang picked up two awards at the International Music Video Awards in the UK — Best Asia & Pacific Music Video and Honourable Mention for Best Costume — for her music video, Warrior Spirit.

Online participants will also get to attend a variety of lecturers and showcase performances conducted by speakers from around the world.

Organised by Wind Music and sponsored by the Bureau of Audio-Visual and Music Industry Development of the Ministry of Culture, the 2021 World Music Festival @Taiwan features ethnicities from all over the globe and brings together world music and pop crossovers.

The 2021 World Music Festival @Taiwan will take place physically and virtually from October 29 to November 12. — Picture courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board
The 2021 World Music Festival @Taiwan will take place physically and virtually from October 29 to November 12. — Picture courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board

The festival aims to connect the international music industry online, reinforce international exchanges and create networking opportunities and partnerships for Taiwanese musicians.

The physical concert will be held at the Taipei Dajia Riverside Park on October 30 and 31 featuring talents from Taiwan, Colombia, Brazil, the US and the UK.

Some of the artists scheduled to perform include Suming, Sangpuy, Sauljaljui, ZenKwun, Tito Tang and the Montunos, Grass Walkers, Youth Banana, the O-KAI Singers, the Muddy Basin Ramblers, Gina’s Can, and Spectro 7 (feat. Jacky Chen).  

Online attendees can look forward to performances by the Canadian groups Tio Chorinho and Bantü Salsa, and Taiwan’s very own Taiwu Ancient Ballads Troupe who will be putting on a tribute show in honour of their artistic director and Paiwan indigenous giant, the late Camake Valaule who passed away in August.

There will also be an array of dance styles namely Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Nicaraguan and Belizean to delight dance enthusiasts, plus street artists who will be showcasing their talents.

Tickets for the 2021 World Music Festival @Taiwan are available at KLOOK, Pok'elai or UDN Fun Life.

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