sábado, 21 de junio de 2008

Songs of the Night (Nyanyian Malam)

I have a hunch that this new cycle of mine will consist of dozens of songs. These songs were written throughout these years, and they have one thing in common : they were all written during the darkest hours of the night, and mostly when the composer was feeling lonely and miserable in a hotel room at any corners of the world. It was always the time where everybody's asleep and that there was no internet connection in the room, so my only true friend at that time were books. And most of the time, book of poems. And somehow, music just flow from those poems, so I wrote them down. Some of them can be sung by either male or female voice, so I just indicate whether they are for high, medium or low voice. Some of them even can be transposed comfortably, well, just a few, so please try to consult me first if you wanna do it anyway.

Last week I was going through my manuscripts recovering them, since I will have the honour and opportunity of premiering them with my fantastic singer friends, Aning Katamsi the soprano and "Akis" Joseph Kristanto the baritone (photos ; I especially like Akis' photo in front of my favorite "fachada" of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. And I found Aning's photo somewhere after googling ; that's another facet of her life, being a choir conductor) in a concert to celebrate my 40th birthday at Hotel Alila on July 17th. 5 numbers of "Songs of the Night" will be premiered in this occasion, together with my other "greatest hits" such as some songs from my cantata Ars Amatoria, the song cycle Senyap Dalam Derai and some piano pieces. This concert is a birthday gift from Chendra my manager, and from Alila Hotel, and it will be preceded by a Gala Dinner. Mmmm ! And the organizer told me that I can just be myself in that concert and I can do whatever I want. I think it's quite dangerous to suggest such a thing to me ....

If you fancy coming to this event, please contact Chendra at 0818 891038 or http://ycep@yahoo.com/

martes, 10 de junio de 2008

Four O, Four O, the Hobby-Horse is NOT forgot

Does that work, that pun I did from Hamlet ? Not really, eh ? Anyway, I just passed that danger zone. I am now f***ing FORTY !! Some said life begins at forty, others talk about that famous crisis of the forties. My deduction : Life begins with a crisis . Ooops ...

Many thanx for the hundreds of birthday wishes arriving through emails, friends. I love you all! You're the greatest !

Last year, the great poet Sapardi Djoko Damono gave me a special present for my birthday : Four Sonnets, beautiful ones for me. You (if you read Indonesian) can read them in this blog, in my entry in June, last year. They were even chosen as one of the 100 best poems in Indonesian (those awards are irrelevant especially when you read the few other poems by other authors included in those 100 which are sort of ...hmm, shall we say, OK); you just read those sonnets and see how moved you'd be. This year, I have received --and am deeply touched, moved and grateful-- some poems as presents from my literary friends (which I'll publish in this blog later this month), but I think a more suitable poem --at least for today --would be an existing one from Walt Whitman (obviously, not written for me, and I'd be the only one in the world who says that this is one of the 100 best poems of the galaxy or whatever) :

O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;

Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;

Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Have I contributed my verse ? Have you ? I guess this is the poem which has made me going thru these years. Certainly I identify myself with the one who answers. I am not such a pessimistic person, though I do ask those questions from time to time. One can't help it when he turns 40! But I guess what Uncle Walt means with "you will contribute a verse" is exactly that : YOUR verse, MY verse . Not anybody else's. Not going with the flow. And I think I have been doing that all my life. And I always will.

I remember an advice from my parents : "Kid, I don't have the secret of success, but I have the secret of failure, and that is : trying to make everybody happy. You just CAN'T make everybody happy."

You just can't.

lunes, 9 de junio de 2008

"This Boy's had a dream" ; In memory of Prof. Dr. Fuad Hassan

Piano, piano. I've been quite pianistic these days. Writing 4-hand piano pieces for my daughter Alicia, started a two-piano piece and several etudes for piano solo. An email came last week from the Faculty of Psychology of Universitas Indonesia, asking me if I could contribute something for a concert commemorating our former minister of education, Mr. Fuad Hassan. He was the one who helped me with a scholarship to go to the Royal Conservatory of Den Haag, back in 1986. So I wrote the piece quickly (I was unusually inspired !), and wrote this program note :

A piece of music of mine to cherish the memory of our dear Prof. Dr. Fuad Hassan would be, inevitably, autobiographical. He was the person responsible for my musical education abroad, back in 1986, when things were really difficult for me. Without him, I wouldn't be where I am now. Sitting down writing the piece, my mind automatically travelled back to those years, when I was a teenager --to be precise, an ungrown-up boy. I had only dreams to follow, those kind of dreams where one could achieve anything if one really wants it. That, mixed with the uncertainties of a teenager, understanding (or not?) love for the first (few) times, the sentimental feeling of travelling far far beyond his birthplace, etcetra. Those things would sound unreal now, but were more than real in those days. Hence, "This Boy's Had a Dream" was born with an un-typical sentimentality that normally can't be found in my music. This, I feel, is the music this boy would write 20 years ago but didn't have the musical skill to write it down. Again, I hold Mr. Fuad Hassan responsible for the physical birth of this music, embedded in me for 20 years. It is unabashedly romantic, reflecting the Whitman-esque teenager not a bit tamed, untranslatable, sounding his barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world. And Mr. Fuad Hassan understood my dreams, and realized them. Requiescat in pace, Mr. Fuad Hassan.