martes, 12 de diciembre de 2006

about Jakarta New Year concert

A few hours before leaving to Jakarta .... my friend John Paul sent me his article in Jakarta Java Kini magazine about the New Year Concert . Oooops, he still got the old date ... anyway, it will be on the 3rd of January at Graha Bakti Budaya, TIM, at 19.30, so ignore the time & date of his article. Apart from that, check out how clever he is . Here is his article :

The Real Deal , by John Paul

The dawn of another year, filled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles towards unattainable goals.
But one needn't search far or wide to find those people whose lives are a standing reminder that anything is possible with a lot of hard work, perseverance, and enough courage to make but a small leap of faith.
I still remember when I first heard of Indonesian pianist Ananda Sukarlan and his exploits, which included performing in the most prestigious venues around the world to the highest critical acclaim, receiving numerous awards and being dedicated works by top composers, as well as championing works by those previously unknown - but most of all, having the coveted reality of doing what he loves for a living without having to get breast implants or spend US$20000 a month on his hair a la Justin Timberlake. It used to make myself, and I'm sure many others, feel so small and insignificant.
However, his effect on me has changed since I had the unlikely and completely coincidental opportunity to meet, and even befriend this person, whose preference for light concert attire once caused him to be threatened with the cancellation of his concert in Berlin when they realized he hadn't brought a customary penguin coat (as he calls it) for the evening performance, although he later luckily managed to rent one just in time. I think I was almost disappointed to discover that behind the giant of a musician was also a great human being. His low profile and humility confounds me and is a constant reminder that the truly great make others feel like they too can be such. Of course, like anybody else, he isn't without his peculiarities.
Being a late sleeper who describes himself as a wine and coffee person, he composes between one and four in the morning and claims to work better on airplanes. Then again, he also claims nobody's ever really been to the moon, TV is why we no longer have great composers like Bach or Mozart, and astrology is complete bollocks.
Paradoxically, he's watched his favorite movies The Godfather and Citizen Kane an estimated 1000 times, and believes he's a real Gemini and a genuine Monkey.
I've always been intrigued about what it is that makes a truly great person, not just a great musician. And now I might just finally have the answer, or at least part of it.
There seems to be a pattern that all trulysuccessful people first experience great adversities, disappointments, and failures. And many of these continue to persist for an entire lifetime. I often wonder who the exceptions are, if any, to this pattern because if there are none, I might confidently suppose that I am among them, only still in the making. Certainly many could then share in this sort of hope. Edison failed 200 times before discovering the right material for his light bulb's filament.
Beethoven suffered his childhood under an alcoholic father and became deaf at the age of 28. Schubert remained not only penniless but even worse, unrecognized, till the day he died. In modern times, Aniello Desiderio ran off the stage in the middle of a performance. Ananda Sukarlan was kicked out of YPM (Yayasan Pendidikan Musik) for being untalented, an allegation which he believed for quite a while. Even when he finally got the chance to study in Holland, his scholarship was cancelled in his 3rd year due to intergovernmental problems. He started playing in bars and clubs, and joined competitions initially just to finance his education. Little did he know that these would boost his career.
I suppose this stubborn perseverance, which seems to be the quality commonly shared among these greats, seems to be what ultimately pulled them through. Despite the most severe trials, it can be summed up in Ananda's words when he finally decided 3 years after being kicked out, that he wanted to be a pianist, anyway. "No talent? Who cares!” Whether you want to be uplifted, pampered by the performance of a world class artist, or both, the Jakarta New Year Concert in the Upper Room of the Nikko Hotel, on January 1, 2007 at 5 p.m, is a great way to start the new year. Ananda Sukarlan will perform Maurive Ravel's Pavane for the late princess (commemorating the 10th anniversary of Lady Di's death), and David del Puerto's 'Alio Modo' (commemorating the 5th anniversary of the Bali tragedy). Both pieces will feature dances choreographed by Chendra Panatan. Tenor Farman Purnama will sing the premier of Ananda's setting of Ilham Malayu's poem 'The Spider's Ballad', written during the poet's dark years inside a Bangkok prison from 1985-2000. Tickets can be reserved at:

sábado, 9 de diciembre de 2006

andy warhol

When Andy Warhol was asked what is so nice being famous, he answered that when he opened a magazine or newspaper he could just look at any photo and article and it is about a friend (or enemy) or someone he knew of . Well, I think that's my reason why I wanted to be a musician : one day I suddenly found out that I am just listening only to all my friend's music (although it's not the case when I am turning on the radio and a popsong blared out). Now it goes even worse : I am only PLAYING and RECORDING my friends' music .
Can you imagine living in the 1940s, where Benjamin Britten, Alberto Ginastera and those fantastic composers were still alive and yet writing their greatest works? Of course at that time there were no internet, and you can't just write to (oops, I hope this email address doesn't exist) to write to your friend the great Dmitry . But then imagine if you were living in the 1960s, when you can't have any composers as your friends, otherwise you just listen to horrible music. Imagine being friends of Luigi Nono, Giacinto Scelsi or those noisy people. Well, you might not even know their names. You don't miss anything, don't worry. Well, of course you can be friends with the Beatles, whose music has made the world a better place. Hey, in fact I've made friends with Tristan Fry, the percussionist (now in LPO) who did some recordings with the Beatles in the 1960s. Very nice man. Tristan, if you read this, just to let you know that our first meeting in Barcelona earlier this year was really memorable. And very nice playing with you together.
Anyway, it's nice living in this period we are living now. The "arty" composers are again allowed to write beautiful music, and it's nice to have conversations about "Olly's (Knussen) newest piece, or Peter's (Sculthorpe) premiere of orchestral work". Who can prohibit them now to do it ? Boulez is half dead, Stockhausen has become a mad old fat guy, both are not composing contemporary music anymore (well, perhaps contemporary, yes, but is it music ?) ...what a useless life they have had eh ? Certainly they cannot claim that they have made the world a better place. One can now understand how great and BRAVE are those composers like Britten, Shosty, Tippett, Copland, Takemitsu, even people like Peter Sculthorpe. OK, ok, he lives in Aussie, and quite detached from all those intellectual European babblings about how your music should be difficult and inaccessible and to "epater les bourgeouise". But still ....
I wrote this just because I read an article by David del Puerto in the "El Rapto de Europa" magazine which I think is brilliant. Among others, he said that "a work doesn't become great just because many people like it, but if it is bad, NOBODY likes it". Well, the problem with those snobs is that they DON'T like what they hear, but are afraid to admit it. They even could sit still for hours pretending that they got a HUGE orgasm from listening to plink ...plonk.....whzzzzzzz.... blip blop .....tacatacata .... uuuiiiii ......

My Song, Your Song (not Elton John's)

Oh, isn't that awesome ! Just heard "Patience", the new song Gary Barlow wrote for the "reunion" of Take That. He's just the best. Although I wonder, if he didn't do that falsetto of the perfect fifth after the semitone ("my heart is numb has no FEELing" ... however you think it is grammatically) whether the music will sound as catchy as it is now. I remember in "Back for Good" it was a major sixth ("WhatEVER I do..."). I found myself listening to his CD which I haven't heard for a long time, "Love won't wait". No falsetto there, eh ? But really nice chords. My favorite songs in that CD, besides "Love won't wait" are Open Road and Forever Love. Mmmmm !!

Anyway, my three songs are finished being printed and corrected yesterday, AT LAST ! They will be recorded by the soprano Binu Sukaman, with me at the piano for her CD which also includes songs of Mochtar Embut, Trisutji Kamal & Ismail Marzuki (this latter's songs are practically without written piano accompaniment, just simple I - IV - V chords -- which sometimes are the wrong chords anyway -- so I spent this week elaborating -- or inventing perhaps is a better word-- them). "Kama", my first song, was premiered earlier this year by Binu, and it will be sung again, this time by the tenor Farman Purnama in my New Year Concert in Jakarta on the 3rd of January . He will also premiere the last song, "Spider's Ballad" in that event. In fact for the second song, "Setelah Penjara", I was really thinking of a pop singer with a mike close to his/her mouth and singing intimately, just for him/herself . But which pop singer would like to sing without any accompaniment at all ? And those strange intervals ? Anyway, I am thinking of Chendra doing some choreography (or just telling those singers to move or act !) while singing it, therefore I still don't feel like having a singer performing them live until I let Chendra listen to Binu's recording and help me decide what to do. Anyway, doing the first two songs made me, at last, comfy with setting Indonesian poems to music. Now I don't have to resort, as I have done in the past, to mis queridos Whitmans and Poes and Blakes (which I of course still love).
My three songs are based on 3 poems by Ilham Malayu. I call them "Ilham di Penjara". Ilham was a drug-addict, and he had to spend 15 years in prison in Bangkok after he was caught in the airport with drugs. The title has a double meaning : the poet himself in prison writing the poems, and the significance of the word "Ilham" which means inspiration . These deeply touching poems are expressions about loss, loneliness, confusion and profound sadness. Still, the poet could find a moment of joy watching a spider and his busy activities, expressed in the third song "Spider's Ballad". The outer songs are written for high voice and piano, while the middle one, "Setelah Penjara" (after prison) is for solo voice (to be transposed comfortably for any kind of voice) without accompaniment. Each song is dedicated to one close friend who has made its existence possible.
"Kama" is dedicated to Dedi Panigoro, who was with me in the airplane from Tokyo to Jakarta but fell asleep immediately after the plane took off, therefore with noone to talk to I started to read Ilham's poetry and immediately set it to music.
"Setelah Penjara" was written in a shorter route, aboard the Iberia flight from Madrid to Venice. The beauty of Venice --and the busy schedule of the Bienale -- has made me forget the piece afterwards, until Binu Sukaman reminded me of it a month later, hence the dedication.
"Spider's Ballad" was written in Chendra Panatan's house while I was staying there, and he was just busy with himself thinking & experimenting a new choreography. This is what he gets for ignoring me then.