Listening to the beat of the drums


The Royal Belum World Drums Festival 2013 attracts 11 groups from eight countries, writes Hanna Hussein

THE sounds of the drums and percussion were hypnotic. The loud, energetic beats reverberated from Dataran MBI in Ipoh on Feb 24, mesmerising the 10,000 audience at the Royal Belum World Drums Festival 2013, who remained rooted despite the heavy downpour.

Putting up an astounding performance were 11 cultural groups from eight countries across four continents.

They were Harubee (Republic of Maldives), Nakhonsawan Rajabhat University and Absolutely Thai (Thailand), Egyptian Nile Folkloric Musical Troupe (Egypt), Wicked Aura (Singapore), Tataloe Percussion (Indonesia), Pancasura (Indonesia), Wild Marmalade (Australia) and Natiq Rhythm Group (Azerbaijan).

Purkusi Gatra, Aswara Percussion Ensemble and Rhythm Of Malaysia represented Malaysia.

Rhythm Of Malaysia, comprising students from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, had won the national-level Royal Belum Perak Drums and Percussion Challenge 2013 in Gopeng earlier. They walked away with RM18,000.
The group kicked off the show at 9pm with a colourful multi-cultural performance.

The combination of traditional and modern percussions led by the Malay, Chinese and Indian drummers encapsulated the spirit of 1Malaysia.

The audience was not only entertained by the adrenaline-pumping beats but also by the movements of the dancers clad in vibrant and eye-catching costumes.

Another catchy performance was by Egyptian Nile Folkloric Musical Troupe which charmed the audience with its traditional Tanoura dance. The dancer showed off his skills to spin like a top. It was an admirable feat considering that he wore a two-layered 17kg rainbow skirt which flared beautifully as he spun around.

The Harubee from the Republic of Maldives played a traditional instrument called Boduberu while the Tataloe Percussion from Indonesia used recycled items such as pots and plastic bins to produce creative sound effects.
Australia’s Wild Marmalade played techno music using the didgeridoo and accompanied by drum beats.

Traditionally dressed in gold, the Absolutely Thai group and students from the Nakhonsawan Rajabhat University showcased an exotic Thai dance accompanied by drum beats. Rapid hand drumming skills by Natiq Rhythm Group from Azerbaijan as well as the Wicked Aura from Singapore also mesmerised the audience.

In the audience was Eric Zang, 42, from Arizona, the United States, who flew here for the first time to witness the festival held for the second consecutive year. He learnt about the festival from the Internet.

“It’s the power of the world wide web that has brought me here and I absolutely love the mixture of drum performances by all the groups,” he said.

A drum player himself, Zang said all the performances were enlightening as they showcased the cultures and traditions of the people around the world.

The event was graced by the acting Sultan of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, who officially closed the event. He was accompanied by Raja Puan Besar of Perak, Tuanku Zara Salim.

Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman were also present.

A day earlier, the opening show for the Royal Belum World Drums Festival was held at the Gerik airstrip.

Gerik is located near the Royal Belum Rainforest, after which the festival was named. There were also several pocket shows held over a couple of weekends in February which served as a build-up to the final extravaganza in Ipoh.

The annual festival is organised by the Perak State Government through Perak Tourism and managed Kilatan Unggul EZ Events Sdn Bhd.

The performers at the Royal Belum World Drum Festival 2013 in Ipoh.

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