Youngest RWMF performer Nikita aims to score big as sape player

Nikita Sarna
19/06/2022 02:46 PM

By Rozlin Rusharmeen Rosmin

KUCHING, June 19 (Bernama) -- Names like Jerry Kamit and Elizabeth Bungan are among the renowned musicians when it comes to sape or sampe, which is the traditional lute of the Orang Ulu community, namely the Kenyah and Kayan, in Sarawak.

For a young sape player, Nikita Sarna, 11, the youngest performer at the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2022, Jerry has always been her idol in sape industry, hence, she hoped to open a sape class one day in order to chase her dream to become a professional musician, following Jerry’s and Elizabeth’s footsteps.

Nikita Sarna (Credit: RWMF 2022)

“In the next few years, I dream of opening my own sape class, just like my teacher Hallan Hashim. I am looking forward to being able to do that.

“My first idol in sape is Jerry Kamit. My cousin introduced me to Hallan Hashim who is now my teacher. He is the one who told me about Alena Murang (Sarawak’s internationally-recognised sape player) and now I cannot believe that I am actually playing sape alongside Alena,” she told Bernama recently. 

Nikita, or better known as Niki, said she is honoured to be able to perform in RWMF on the same stage as Alena as the young girl has always been amazed by Alena’s sape playing skills. 

Alena, who is of Kelabit and Italian-English parentage, is also a singer-songwriter. 

“This is our first collaboration and I knew her when I was nine years old and I have obsessed with how she played it ever since, how it seemed so calm and beautiful. 

“RWMF is fun and this is my first time performing in front of a big crowd such as this. I am happy yet extremely nervous to perform here,” she said. 

Nikita who is of Kayan and Punjabi parentage said that she picked sape when she was eight years old, after watching a Youtube video clip at a Christmas family gathering and instantly fell in love with the magical sounds of the traditional lute. 

The Selayang-born who moved to Miri at the age of seven said she is grateful as her parents have been very supportive of her dream to play sape and enchant the audience with her skills.

Nikita will flaunt her sape skills on the highlight of RWMF 2022 tonight alongside other local and international artists such as Alena Murang, Tima Vaananen of Finland, Yayi Cai (China) and Flame of the Forest (Singapore).