Alena Murang’s ‘Spirit’

Alena Murang’s latest show ‘Spirit’ arrives on our shores for a one-night only show on October 24, 8pm at Chemsain Auditorium.

It is a culmination of over 20 years of her journey living, learning and receiving culture artforms. This show, which played to sold out audiences in Kuala Lumpur, also feature visuals by emerging artist Max Jala.

Alena Murang will be bringing ‘Spirit’ to Kuching this October. (Photo by Adam Lewis)
Alena Murang will be bringing ‘Spirit’ to Kuching this October. (Photo by Adam Lewis)

Alena, a sape player, vocalist and cultural activist, will be accompanied by her band which consists of Joshua Maran (guitarist, producer, music director), Derrick Siow (drummer), and Jonathan Wong (finger-style guitar), as well as Sharifah Nur Hannah (production manager).

‘Spirit’ is a sharing of music and stories from the Kelabit people, charting Alena’s berjalai process as she collects stories and knowledge from the community.

 “Learning the sape from Uncle Matthew Ngau has been filled with stories of his childhood – how he learned sape, how he courted girls, and his life at Long Semiyang, which I have visited,” she said.

Her journey took her to Ulung Palang, Bario where she learned a song about rebuilding after a village was destroyed. In Long Banga, she learned to play a musical instrument called the Lutong from one of its last practitioners. Another traditional musician taught Alena the pagang and a song played after a rhino hunt. In Bario Asal, she learned old Kelabit songs about a warrior ancestor named Agan Tadun and his wife Dayang.

“I learned old stories from Tepu Malian of Long Peluan. These stories are the history of the people there. He also shared about his life as a penghulu, and his practice as an artist,” she said.

Born in Kuching to a Kelabit father and English-Italian mother, Alena studied at Manchester Business School (UK) before moving to work in management consulting in 2011. She then went on to study Visual Arts at La Salle College of the Arts in Singapore in 2014.

Alena and her sape teacher Matthew Ngau. (Photo by Tong)
Alena and her sape teacher Matthew Ngau. (Photo by Tong)

After starting sape lessons in 2002 with Matthew Ngau, sape master and Living National Heritage of Malaysia, Alena embarked on being a professional sape player herself in 2014. She has performed internationally.

For tickets, contact the Spirit hotline at 019-4892038 or email to

This event is part of What About Kuching 2019. For more information or to download our calendar, visit  Programme booklet are also available for free across Kuching. For updates, find WAK on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter under @aboutkuching. Join the buzz by hashtagging #WAK2019, #WAK and #aboutkuching.

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