0 The Malaysia Manual - Part 1: Music & Entertainment

Performing Arts


The predominant form of puppetry in Malaysia is Shadow puppets. Shadow puppet plays are also known as wayang kulit. In Malay, Wayang means shadow or imagination, while Kulit means skin and refers to the leather that puppets are made from. Stories presented are usually mythical & morality tales. The wayang kulit in northern states of Malaysia such as Kelantan is influenced and similar to Thai shadow puppets, while the wayang kulit in southern Malay peninsula, especially in Johor is influenced by Javanese wayang kulit.


There is a very lively dance culture in Malaysia with a variety of different dances being practiced.Court Dance, folk dance of West Malaysia and East Malaysia are practiced and performed widely .Far from the shopping malls, these dances are still being kept alive by the traditional masters (though their numbers are decreasing) in an ever changing world of computer and information technology.

Chinese Opera

Chinese Opera, or xiqu, in Malaysia is one of the county’s oldest cultural traditions . As one of the oldest dramatic art-forms in the world, Chinese Opera is considered to be one of the most popular forms of entertainment for the Chinese community ever since it began in China over a thousand years ago. Chinese Opera in Malaysia can still be found if one looks hard enough. Local opera troupes often hold performances where they charge for entry, and the more popular ones will catch the attention of the public where they are invited to perform for celebrations and special occasions.

Xiao Kee Lin-Hokkien Wayang is one of the few Chinese Opera Troupes still operating in Malaysia today. Equipped with quality costumes, enviable skills and great on-stage charisma, they have been widely successful and were invited to perform in a number of countries.

Music Festivals

Borneo International Festival
Date 11th – 12th May 2012.
Venue: ParkCityEverly Hotel, Miri, Sarwak

Borneo International Festival was previously known as Miri International Jazz Festival. The name change is to “reflect the growing stature of the festival among leading jazz festivals in the region”.
Musicians from all over the world are performing at this year’s Borneo Jazz including Veteran American artist Maria Muldaur who will be the headline attraction with four different acts to play on each of the two nights! Besides music other attractions include craft bazaar, food and village mart, musical expo and a special Borneo Jazz store.

Rainforest World Music Festival
13-15 July 2012
Sarawak Cultural Village

The Rainforest World Music Festival is a 3 day annual event celebrating the diversity of world music. The festival features a wide range of performances from traditional music to fusion to contemporary world music. The Rainforest World Music Festival is one of the largest in Malaysia with a total weekend audience of 30 thousand. Artists performing at the festival are well renowned local folk musicians as well as performers from all over the world.

Jason Mraz live in KL
19 June 2012
Merdeka Stadium KL

Jason Mraz visited Malaysia 3 years ago to a packed house in Stadium Negara. This year he is coming back for to repeat his amazing performance on 19th June 2012. This concert is part of his tour, “Tour is a four letter world”, which will coincide with the release of his fourth album “Love is a four letter word”.


DewanFilharmonikPetronas is Malaysia’s first purpose built concert hall, officially opened on 17 August 1998. It is an 885 seat jewel box shaped room which has hosted many of the world’s leading artists and orchestras including Anoushka Shankar, Pink Martini, Harry ConnickJr and Count Basie. It’s located between the Petronas Twin Towers.

KL International Jazz Festival

19 - 20 May 2012

The KL International Jazz Festival was launched on 28th December 2011 featuring groups like KL Jazz Experimental Project, Hanafie Imam Trio, MichealVeerapen, International Trio and Hasselbach – Monteiro Funk Project.
This year it’s being held on the 19th and 20th of May 2012 and have internationally acclaimed artists and top local musicians including Legendary New Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal.

Kenny G at Genting Highlands
19 May 2012

The Legendary Saxophonist Kenny G is performing at Genting Highlands this year on 19th of May 2012. He is the biggest selling instrumental musician of the modern era and has sold a total of more than 75 million albums.

Christina Perry live in KL
7 June 2012
KL Live, Kuala Lumpur

Christina Perri of Jar of hearts fame is heading to Kuala Lumpur this summer. Christina Perri shot to fame after posting a video of her original song “Tragedy”.


Kotarayaku by Altimet feat Noh Hujan

Altimet is an award winning rapper, live entertainer, songwriter, producer, arranger, television and live events host. Ahmad bin Abdul Rahman, better known as Altimet, is recognized as an industry mover and termed as one of the “individuals who are shaping Malaysia”. His single Kotarayaku featuring Noh Salleh gave Kuala Lumpur a new anthem to represent proudly.The song which literally means ‘My City’ is an ode to Kuala Lumpur. Check out the video for a quick tour of the sights and sounds of the city.

Stay by Estrella

Estrella originally formed as a trio back in 2006, then shrunk to a duo. Numerous open-mic sessions and gigs at notable shows around town namely Moonshine, Troubadours, Doppelganger, and No Black Tie followed suit, before ultimately capturing the attention of indie label Laguna Music. After teaming up with Laguna Music in January 2007, Estrella further evolved their genre from indie jazz to a slightly more complex sound, with dreamy and spacey after-effects. Their single ‘Stay’ topped radio airplay charts across Malaysia.

Bitter Heart - Zee Avi
Zee Avi is a singer, songwriter and ukele player. She hit the big time when Patrick Keeler of The Rancoteurs discovered her on YouTube and was subsequently signed by Brushfire Records. Zee Avi’s songs have been featured in TV shows such as Private Practice and Gossip Girl. Here she is singing ‘Bitter Heart.

Live Your Life by Yuna
Yuna started out as a solo MySpace artist in 2006, singing in both English and Malay. Her music influences include Feist, The Cardigans, Coldplay, Sia and Bob Dylan.
Yuna's meteoric rise in the Malaysian indie music scene is largely due to the strong following she gained via Myspace. Yuna was eventually discovered in the US by the Indie-Pop record label and management company. They flew out to Malaysia to convince her to sign with them and then proceeded to get her a deal with Fader Label, a record label based in New York, in February 2011. Yuna was nominated as one of MTV Iggy's Best New Bands in the World. She performed at the historic MTV Studios in Times Square New York singing "Decorate", "Come As You Are" and her new single "Live Your Life", which is produced by Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D.

Voting statistics: