Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay puts Malay culture front and centre again from 20th to 23rd July with the 16th edition of the annual Pesta Raya Malay Festival of the Arts!

Celebrating the rich heritage of Malay traditional and contemporary arts, the 2017 Pesta Raya festival will be bringing both old favourites and new artists to the stage. Check out some of the highlights below:

Setan Jawa (21st July) – Esplanade Concert Hall

Setan Jawa_credit_Erik Wirasakti

What would you sacrifice to save your lover?

Commissioned by the Esplanade, Arts Centre Melbourne and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Setan Jawa unites a 20-piece Indonesian ensemble and a Western orchestra form a collaboration between cultures, performing live to a new black-and-white silent film by celebrated Indonesian filmmaker, Garin Nugroho. Partially inspired by classic horror film Nosferatu and the rich visual imagery of Javanese culture, Setan Jawa is an epic love story about a young man who makes sacrifices to save his lover, including a deal with the devil gone wrong. Setan Jawa’s soundtrack was jointly written by award-winning Australian composer/conductor Iain Grandage and renowned Indonesian composer Rahayu Supanggah, and promises a final work rich in mysticism you’d be wont to sell your soul to catch.

Ella – Kambaru Ratu Rock (22nd July) – Esplanade Concert Hall


Malaysia’s “Queen of Rock” Ella will be celebrating her 30th year of her music career at the Pesta Raya festival, with a special performance that will feature all of her greatest hits, including Pengemis Cinta, Sembilu and Dua Insan Bercinta. Ella has become Malaysia’s best-selling female artist, with five platinum records to her name and worked with some of the very best musicians in the industry, including Slash – lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses. With her last solo performance in Singapore happening over 20 years ago, this performance will be a welcome return for the rock and roll icon.

Hikayat Gundik Berirama – The Venopian Solitude (21st July) – Esplanade Recital Studio

The Venopian Solitude
The Venopian Solitude

In addition to superstars, the music scene at Pesta Raya will also be featuring younger artists, including Malaysian band The Venopian Solitude, a quirky, experimental band headed by Selangor-born singer Suiko Takahara (pseudonym) who uses everything from tissue boxes to children’s xylophones to make her music. The trilingual artist writes in Malay, English and Japanese, and released her debut eight-track album, Hikayat Perawan Majnun (Tales of a Lunatic Damsel), in 2014 to critical acclaim. The Venopian Solitude will be collaborating with local band .gif for a truly heady blend of synth and chill beats.

Payung Teduh (22nd July) – Esplanade Recital Studio


Payung Teduh


Payung Tuduh are one of Indonesia’s fastest rising indie-alternative bands, performing an eclectic mix of folk, keroncong, pop and jazz for one night. These boy wonders’ music has been described as warm and fuzzy, mellow yet breezy, while in possession of emotional, poetic lyrics that “haunts the mind with a sense of vulnerability.”

Main² by Teater Ekamatra (20th – 23rd July) – Esplanade Theatre Studio

Main2A real blast from the past, Main² was commissioned for the very first Pesta Raya in 2002, and was the first Malay language play to be staged at the arts centre. Penned by Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit, Main² charts the condition of the Malay community as it follows the lives of six characters whose lives of abuse and pain come together, as they continue yearning for happiness and love. This new staging is directed by Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit, and features a new cast made up of Al-Matin Yatim, Farez Najid, Farhana M Noor, Hatta Said, Munah Bagharib and Suhaili Safari.

Finally, apart from these big ticketed stage shows and concerts, Pesta Raya will also be featuring fun activities for families, including Dikirt Barat workshops for parents and kids. Ceria! also returns to the Outdoor Theatre this year where audiences go on an adventure to find the best ketupat recipe in a new production, The Ketupat Kid. featuring young talents. At the Courtyard, there will be an interactive and humourous shadow puppet performance by Kohe Kawamura. At Pesta Raya, everyone is welcome to share in the joys and wonders of Malay culture over the four-day festival, come down and share in the fun this July!

Photo Credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Pesta Raya takes place from 20th to 23rd July at the Esplanade. Tickets and more information available here  

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