KUCHING, 23 June 2022: Borneo Jazz festival-goers will experience rare musical instruments and talk to the practitioners behind the uncommonly practised boat lutes at the upcoming Borneo Boat Lute Revival Exhibition.

It is part of the themed “Jazz in The Jungle”, the 17th edition will be held in a hybrid format for the first time from 24 to 26 June 2022 at Coco Cabana, Miri, and will be joined by performers from countries namely Singapore, Japan, France, Switzerland, USA, Hungary and India.

The first-ever exhibition of its kind, fans of the Sarawak sape’ will get to learn more about its lesser-known cousins from diverse communities such as the Sundatang (Dusun), Belikan (Iban), Tapi (Lun Bawang), as well as the predecessor to the sape’ as it is currently recognised, the two-string Sampe’ Bali (Kenyah). The exhibit will also feature demonstrations by its practitioners, McFeddy Simon, Hayree Hashim, Rining Peter and Salomon Gau.

Initiated by Catama Borneo, Tuyang Initiative and CtrlD Studio, with illustrations commissioned to Zariq Hanif of KertasPapel, the Borneo Boat Lute Revival Project is a collaborative project made out of a collective of researchers, cultural practitioners and creatives telling the stories of boat lutes and its traditional custodians from across Borneo island.

These ancient instruments used for celebrations, spirituality and cultural performances, the boat lutes of Borneo, can help to tell the stories of the various heritage of Borneo island communities whilst also finding a place for it in contemporary music. The exploration and reimagining of these instruments from local indigenous perspectives become a tool for dialogue on lost knowledge and ways of life, helping to trace paths between the past, present, and future of some of these endangered instruments.

Evelyn Hii, Artistic Director for Borneo Jazz 2022, says that the familiarity of Borneo indigenous oral traditions to that of jazz and blues is uncanny.

“Ways of expression which are so similar, for example, such as lamenting and celebration, just goes to show that our practices and music – is truly universal. I commend this collaborative team for their passion for this project, having started the hard work on it since pre-pandemic. Then later, for the duration of this exhibition, more people can experience the beauty of the various boat lutes in person.”

Exhibition curator Catriona Maddocks, added: “The exhibition is the culmination of research, field trips, and skill-sharing carried out throughout Sarawak, Sabah and Kalimantan by our collaborators. It will be the first time some people will learn about some of these endangered instruments. We hope that in the long run, this exhibition will play a small role in reviving these instruments and bringing them the global fame and recognition that the Sape has received over the past 20 years.”

The Borneo Boat Lute Revival Exhibition opens from 1100 until 1900 on 25 and 26 June 2022 at Coco Cabana as part of this year’s Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri, Sarawak. Those interested in visiting the exhibition are encouraged to book their time slots to avoid long wait times at https://borneoboatlute.com

Borneo Jazz will also be providing fun and educating fringe activities from 24  to 26 June 2022, open to the public, such as Eco-Art Project, Borneo Boat Lute Exhibition, Miri Sape Movement – ‘Evolution of the Sape’, Wellness Programme and Artisanal Craft Bazaar.

Jazz music lovers can start purchasing tickets for BJ starting now from the official website at jazzborneo.com or directly from authorised ticket resellers, Miri City Council at [email protected] and Transworld Travel Services Sdn Bhd at [email protected].

For the general category, 1 Day Pass is priced at MYR128 per ticket, 2 Day Pass is MYR228 per ticket and 3 Day Pass is MYR338 per ticket. As for students and senior citizens, 1 Day Pass is priced at RM88 per ticket, 2 Day Pass is MYR128 per ticket and 3 Day Pass is MYR188 per ticket.

For those who want to enjoy BJ virtually, tickets are priced at MYR25 per one-hour block. For more information on the Borneo Jazz festival 2022, log on to BJ’s official website at www.jazzborneo.com.