Thu, Sep 24, 2015 - Page 12 News List

A world music get-together in open fields

This year’s Migration Music Festival is an outdoor affair in Tamsui, featuring not only music performances, but theatrical shows, workshops, a food market and a bar transplanted from Bangkok

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

Iranian percussionist Reza Samani.

Photo courtesy of Trees Music and Art

From Thailand to Indonesia, Chung She-fong (鍾適芳) has traveled extensively — both for work and pleasure — through Southeast Asia. No matter how different the culture, Chung noticed a common scene of far-stretching rice fields, uniting the diverse cultures of the region through the way people cook, eat and share their rice.

This notion became the main idea behind this year’s Migration Music Festival — Rice River (流浪之歌音樂節—米河流). The world music event, which became biennial in 2013, places a focus on Southeast Asian artists and musicians this year while also including other parts of the world.

Chung is the director of independent record label Trees Music and Art (大大樹音樂圖像), which organizes the festival. She says people in Taiwan often aren’t familiar with the neighboring region.

“We are geographically close but culturally distant from each other. It is a great pity since I have gained so many creative nutrients from it,” she adds.

On Saturday and Sunday, music from India, Thailand, Iran and other far-away places will fill the open fields at Cloud Gate Theater’s (雲門劇場) venue in Tamsui, a new move for the music festival which had been previously held in Taipei’s Zhongshan Hall (台北市中山堂).


Among the performers, Indonesian troupe Payung Hitam, or Black Umbrella Theater, hailing from Bandung, West Java, serves as an eloquent example of how Southeast Asian artists draw creative energy from their land and culture. Since its inception in 1982, Black Umbrella has been internationally known for its social and political criticism. They often utilize elements from traditional rituals, myths and folklore. Their performances are devoid of text and dialogue, expressing ideas and emotions through sounds, voices, dance and bodily movements and using instruments handmade from natural materials such as stones, bamboos and straws.

Festival notes

What: 2015 Migration Music Festival — Rice River (2015流浪之歌音樂節—米河流)

When: Saturday and Sunday

Where: Cloud Gate Theater (雲門劇場), 36, Ln 6, Zhongzheng Rd Sec 1, Tamsui Dist, New Taipei City (新北市淡水區中正路1段6巷36號)

Admission: Tickets are NT$1,500 for a one-day pass, NT$1,600 for one adult and one child aged between six and 15, NT$5,000 for a group of four, available through NTCH ticketing or online at

On the Net:

To Black Umbrella, the human body is an integral part of the land and tradition.

“We must know our own bodies and other people’s bodies. This way, we might be able to keep the traditional spirit and protect the environment,” troupe director Rachman Sabur told the Taipei Times.

Black Umbrella is preparing a brand-new piece for its Taiwan debut, inspired by the Rice Goddess of Indonesia. The performers visited Yilan to learn about the environment and culture while collecting natural materials to make their instruments. They were confused, however, about why the bamboo and straw they wanted had to be ordered and purchased.

“Working with them makes us realize that we are much farther away from the nature than we thought we were,” Chung says.


Festival organizers have transformed Cloud Gate’s green fields into a bazaar, featuring a food market selling a variety of rice delicacies ranging from rice cakes (飯糰) to rice wine. The Bow to Land Farmers Market (彎腰市集) will be present with plenty of environmental friendly and socially responsible products.

Several workshops will take place to introduce rarely seen musical instruments such as daf, a type of Persian frame drum, and nyckelharpa, a traditional keyed fiddle from Sweden.

One of the most peculiar spots at the bazaar will be the bar inspired by Rain Tree, an establishment in Bangkok frequented by manual laborers and seasonal workers from the northeastern region of Isan. Thai folk singer Aing Tinnakorn Uthaisaeng will perform abroad the first time, crooning the tunes of morlam, or traditional Isan folk.

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