Inaugural KWJF exceeds expectations

An aerial view of the KWJF crowd.

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KUCHING: The inaugural Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival (KWJF) 2018 held over the last weekend of September​ was declared a success by Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

He said the event which aimed for a 1,500-strong turnout each evening, saw the evening of Sept 29 packed with 1,700 in the audience while the second night, saw 2,500.

Abdul Karim (right) and Soedirman at the KWJF Finale.

Abdul Karim said this while attending the “Briefing of Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) to Tourism Industry Players in Sarawak” event at a local hotel here today.

Meanwhile, KWJF organiser ​Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (​SEDC) in a press statement today said following the festival’s successful debut, Abdul Karim had announced that KWJF will be included in his ministry’s annual​ ​event​ ​calendar​ ​as​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​anchor​ ​events​ ​in​ ​Sarawak.

The 2-day jazz festival, held on the Grand Margherita Hotel grounds by a scenic riverbank saw the gathering of an estimated 4,000 festival-goers enjoying music from 17 local and international performers and groups over the two days.

Among the crowd favourites were Sheila Majid (Malaysia), Kunto Aji (Indonesia), Shanghai Sisters (Malaysia), Baihana (Philippines), Ernie Watts (USA) , Abdul and the Coffee Theory (Indonesia) and Jeremy Monteiro Organ Trio​ ​(Singapore).

Sheila Majid at KWJF

Sheila Majid, dubbed Malaysia’s Queen of Jazz, was a big draw for the festival as she performed before an engaging and happy crowd who were on their feet, singing along and grooving to her award-winning hits, ‘Sinaran’, ‘Aku Cinta Padamu’, ‘Lagenda’, ‘Antara Anyer dan Jakarta’.

She happily obliged the cheering audience with extra songs. The seasoned songstress said she was happy to return to Kuching to perform again after many years and hoped to be back again next year with her full band for an even bigger performance at KWJF.

Kunto who performed as Friday night’s last act energised the crowd with his lively dance moves as he serenaded them with hit songs such as ‘Ekspektasi’ and ‘Terlalu Lama Sendiri’.

Kunto Aji from Indonesia performs at KWJF.

Kunto exclaimed his pleasant surprise at seeing a large number of the crowd singing along to all of his songs as it was his first time in Kuching.

Kunto came to fame as a contestant on Indonesian Idol 2008 and has penned numerous award-winning songs that are​ ​well-known​ ​among​ ​the​ ​younger​ ​crowd.

On top of the concerts by jazz musicians, the outdoor festival also included a bazaar featuring local vendors selling food and drinks, specialty items, merchandise, souvenirs and foot reflexology services.

The crowd at the front of the stage.

The organiser’s commitment to support corporate social responsibility activities was applauded as four non-government organisations (NGOs) namely Ten Ringgit Club, Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Heart Treasures and MaNoy Handicraft were provided with stalls to promote their cause and sell their products to raise much needed funds.

SEDC general manager and KWJF co-founder Soedirman Aini, said that KWJF was created to bring visibility to the Kuching waterfront as well as economic empowerment to local vendors and suppliers.

Under his leadership and visionary approach, the iconic event has become a reality and will serve as a platform to nurture aspiring jazz musicians and to further mark Sarawak as a premium destination with Kuching city being the gateway to world-class events and festivals such as KWJF.