A piano student from Melbourne asked me some questions for her paper at school. That's why all those things relating to Australian composers appeared in my answers. Here they are :
1. Is there any Indonesian pianist that you admired?
Yazeed Djamin, not only as pianist but as a composer. He was a great friend and my greatest "Indonesian Idol" . A pity he died too young . I don't know anybody (Indonesian, I mean), as greatly talented as him now.
2. When you play a very well-known piece, do you consciously try to bring something new in your interpretations?
No, not consciously. I just try to get to the composer's mind (perhaps because I am a composer as well, so, if I want to bring something new, I just write my own music !) ; that's already quite a task for all performers.
3. When do you start to compose music?
Around early 1990s, but I have thrown away all my music pre-1998 . Before 1998, I was forced (by outside circumstances) to write what I consider "horrible" and avant-garde music. But then I understand that that kind of music are designed to be taught to people who canNOT write real music, and since I can write real music, why bother writing those rubbish ? Writing avant garde music can be taught , but writing real music cannot. Although to be honest, I learned a lot in doing all those stuff, like twelve-tone music etc ; because I "composed" using just my brain, and so somehow it did help me realize and see music objectively and in a "cold" approach. I did all the good counterpoints, orchestrations, correct structures without thinking how the music should sound. But also the turn of the millenium really change the way artistic circles think & create, I think.
4. Does inspiration come easy for you?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. ( And that was the nice thing about those "avantgarde" music I wrote pre-1998 ; I didn't need inspiration, the music always turned out correct. It just sounds horrible, but all those complicated counterpoints and rhythms were done impeccably ! ) . I do have long periods (the longest is about 1 month) of "total block" where I could not write anything, I don't know why. And sometimes I am inspired in times & places where I don't need to be inspired, that's why I carry a notebook always with me, to notate or just scribble down some ideas when it pops up .
5. You write some music for poems, are those kind of compositions different to piano pieces? Well you have to ask me better. Of course, each piece is different from another ! If you mean that the piano accompaniment for the vocal works are less virtuosic, well, in many cases yes, but check out my song "Saksi" or "Summer" or the second song of "Gemuruhnya Malam" in youtube . And tell me that they are not virtuosic !
6. Where do you see classical music going in this 21st century?
Exactly like its development all these centuries. It's not going to get better or worse, and it will always be for reduced amount of audience instead of having a mass follower. There has been the "avant-garde" crisis in the 50s to 80s, and even those "avantgardism" still exists in very small freaky clubs. It has done much harm to music, and as you know, it's much easier to destroy than to build ! But now classical music is much richer, due to external influences such as folkmusic from around the world, pop music etc. In Australia & NZ, Carl Vine, Matthew Hindson and Elena Kats Chernin, John Psathas (and others) are influenced by pop, and Sculthorpe, Gareth Farr etc by Indonesian folk music. And classical music is not just "European" anymore, thanks to what great composers like Peter Sculthorpe, Toru Takemitsu, Aaron Copland or Alberto Ginastera have done and contributed to the musical culture of their countries.