Rio gives up lucrative income for traditional music

Last update: 17/11/2019

TAMPARULI, Nov 17 -- He was willing to turn his back on a lucrative salary merely to be involved in playing traditional musical instruments full time, despite realising the income is uncertain and has no guarantee for the future.

But, due to his deep interest and wanting to defend the existence of traditional music, Rio Ryem Sorioh, 46, from Kampung Timbou, near here, put everything aside, and girded himself to make playing traditional instrument as his career.

As a result of his diligence and perseverence, Rio was now relieved that his action to quit a company in Brunei Darussalam in 1999, was not futile, when he often received invitations to perform traditional music all over Sabah, giving him a lucrative income.

‘’I use the Tamparuli suspension bridge, which is often visited by local and foreign visitors, as a main location to showcase my talent playing traditional musical instruments and being paid for my work, since several months ago, if there is no invitation to play the traditional musical instruments.

‘’There is no need to be embarrassed to perform a job, as long as the effort brings legitimate income to feed my family,’’ said Rio who has a qualification in agriculture from the Pusat Latihan Pertanian Damai, Kota Kinabalu to Bernama.

Rio, who could play modern musical instruments such as the guitar, keyboard and drum, was also skilled in playing the traditional musical instruments ‘sompoton sigi’ or twin ‘sompoton’, ‘marimba’, ‘kulintangan’ and ‘gong’, and could sing solo. 

‘’I am thankful as traditional music is increasingly getting attention and accepted by the society in the state, enabling me to get many bookings to perform at official and public events, earning me a lucrative income,’’ he said. 

He said the support of his wife, Wolnie Palipi, 38, spurred him on in his endeavour playing traditional music despite facing numerous challenges when he first started out.

‘’I often get invitations to perform in Tuaran, Tamparuli, Kiulu, Tenghilan, Kudat, Kota Marudu, Inanam, Telupid, menggatal and Kota Kinabalu at RM450 to RM700 for each performance.

Rio inherited his father, Sorioh Galais’s talent. In his lifetime, Sorioh was an expert in making and creating traditional bamboo musical instruments to popularise traditional bamboo musical instruments such as ‘bungkau’ and ‘suling’.

In this regard, he hoped the role of traditional music in the communities could be defended to be inherited by the coming generations and not lost over time.