Monday, February 26, 2024

A Malaysian Rainforest Concert in The Hague

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By Roy Lie Atjam

The Hague, the Embassy of Malaysia hosted a Malaysian Rainforest Concert featuring the authentic Sarawak musical string instrument Sape. The event was sponsored by the Government of Sarawak.

The venue for the unique concert was the historical Nutshuis in The Hague on 23 September 2022.

The State of Sarawak in Malaysia is considered the cradle of the sape instrument. The artist Mr Jerry Kamit, a renown contemporary  sape artist, has not only promulgated the instrument but also technically improved it.

Master Sape artist Jerry Kamit performing.

The sape, in the Sarawak’s Kenyah dialect means ‘scratching.  It is a traditional plucked lute chordophone family of instruments used by many of the Orang Ulu (Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit), or ‘upriver people’, who live in the longhouses that line the rivers of Central Borneo and Kalimantan. The instrument is widely used by the Orang Ulu people.

Here are the opening remarks by H.E. Dato Nadzirah Osman Ambassador of Malaysia in the Netherlands. “A wise man once said “Music is the universal language of mankind”. A universal language that breaks down language barriers and cultural differences, music promotes cooperation; understanding and mutual respect among people, communities and nations; contributing to a culture of peace.

It is our pleasure to have you here with us tonight to relish in the Malaysian Rainforest Music played through a traditional instrument called the ‘Sape’. The ‘Sape’ that we have today is derived from a traditional wood-carved lute that is native to the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Throughout the years, the ‘Sape’, commonly played to complement the sounds of nature in the Malaysian biodiversity-rich rainforest, has reached a wider range of musical compositions. This diverse range will be showcased today by our award-winning ‘Sape’ player, Mr Jerry Kamit.

Audience participation sape concert.

I hope tonight’s performance will evoke interest in the diverse cultural heritage of Malaysia and the places to visit to get the best cultural exchange experience. For some of you who have already been to Malaysia, I hope the musical arrangement tonight will bring you beautiful memories.

Once again, thank you for your presence. I hope you will have a pleasant night with us. Terima kasih, Dank u wel.”

Dancing to the tunes of sape music.

At the concert in The Hague, Mr Jerry Kamit put on a dazzling and electrifying performance, part of the show was interactive. Mr Deckson Anak Bundak from Sarawak Tourism Board graced the evening with traditional dance and song demonstrations. Many in the audience got on their feet and joined in the dancing. The evening was a demonstration of Cultural Diplomacy, featuring facets of Malaysian cultural heritage. A Rainforest World Music Festival will take place in Sarawak Malaysia in 2023.

The cultural event ended with a Sarawak treat including the famous layered cake or known as kek lapis Sarawak, a local delicacy that you cannot miss while visiting the state of Sarawak.

All left the Nutshuis in high spirits.

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