miércoles, 30 de julio de 2008

Brill ? Young ? Local ? Thanx, but no thanx !

(a reflection on the Ananda Sukarlan Award 2008)

Congrats to those brilliant young Indonesian pianists who won prizes at the Ananda Sukarlan Award 2008 : Inge Buniardi (1st), Edith Widayani (2nd) and the three Thirds all tied : Handy Suroyo, Randy Ryan and Stephanie Onggowinoto. As a curious note, both Randy and Stephanie are both under 14 years of age. Not that we, jury members, put special attention to the early teens, but still it is amazing how they could compete with other pianists under 25.

I must say, I don't like music competitions ("oops ! Shut up, Andy !!" - "Do i contradict myself ? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes" (Walt Whitman)) . But this is the system from which we built all our musical careers, and since I couldn't think of a better way, so well, here we are. There are at least 2 participants which I personally felt they should enter the final round (I think each of the jury members had one or two of their favorite(s) who didn't manage to enter the finals), and I must admit the jury had difficulty in determining which 10 "best" pianists should enter the final round. We had 4 highly reputable jury members, and especially I am glad to greet a new friend, Henoch Kristianto as one of the jury. He is a wonder boy, graduated from Missouri who just recorded Chopin's 24 etudes. Fantastic.

But let's talk about another thing, which is my favorite theme to talk about : public acceptance to our own local music (classical) talents. There was a good audience (both quality- and quantitywise) during the final round, but I failed in one thing in this competition : to get reporters and celebrity friends to attend the final round on the 26th. Well, I shouldn't complain. Many of them have flocked at my Birthday concert at Alila Hotel held the week before the competition, and they have contributed a lot (both in publicizing and in financial aids) for the Ananda Sukarlan Award. But I would like them to hear the young local talents. Why ? Simply, coz they are really brilliant. They are the future of our country (if we have a future, with all those corruptions around). Guys, you should check the winners name I told you above. Remember them, for just a few years ahead. What else do they have to prove, besides their virtuosity and artistry ?

Can I tell you one thing, guys ? Now, most of the international piano competitions throughout Europe are won by Asian pianists. And I see that the Indonesians are catching up. The artistic world is like the stockmarket, guys. You should bet on one when it's still not high up there yet ! Are you going to let go of this opportunity ?

viernes, 18 de julio de 2008

Every language creates its own music

I had a really nice concert 2 days ago. Aning Katamsi and Joseph Kristanto "Akis" sang sooo well, and perhaps that's my best birthday present up till now. Nothing gives greater happiness to a composer than listening to his music so well performed. I am so grateful to those two friends.And thank you for all the emails, sms, and the attendance of 120 VVIP people in the concert ! This is an entry to respond to your answers and comments.

1. What is an Indonesian opera ? Well, this relates to the question "What is Indonesian classical music" (classical in the "western" idiom), and this kind of question was asked already about 100 years ago by the Americans, and starting about 50 years ago in countries such as Japan and Australia. Basically it was answered not by mere sentences, but by the creation of music by composers such as Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Toru Takemitsu and Peter Sculthorpe. I believe that Indonesian music is simply music written by an Indonesian composer. Therefore, my music is included, even if I live already more than 20 years abroad and carrying the (heavy) influences of European music such as those of Benjamin Britten, Stravinsky or Sibelius. Or am I wrong in self-declaring my music as "Indonesian music" ? Is it not Indonesian enough ?

2. As my opera "Mengapa Kau Culik Anak Kami" is postponed (whew ! What a relief ! The music is completely, 100% finished, but surely with all the things happening, we won't be able to stage it in this period), we are trying to fix a date for its premiere for the beginning of 2009. Of course the singers will be the same, my brilliant friends Aning and Akis. And now that I get to know Akis' voice better (this is the first time that we worked together -- with more than satisfactorical results --), I would like to revise some parts of my opera. I wouldn't like to kill him now with all my falsetti ; I still want him to sing in all my operas (God grant me a long and prosper life) of the future !

3. Now about "Songs of the Night" (Nyanyian Malam). I will have to contradict myself saying earlier that it is written for any kind of voice, male or female, as long as they are within the register (Oh yes, I would like to stress again the fact that I usually conceive a song in its exact tonality -- perhaps due to my absolute pitch--, so I always feel uncomfortable to have my songs transposed to suit the registers of the singers. Sorry for being that fussy !). There are some songs which I couldn't imagine sung by the other kind of voice, such as :
- Tidurlah Intan, for female voice (medium - high)
- Di Depan Sebuah Lukisan, for male voice (and falsetto in the end !)
- Meninggalkan Kandang, for female voice (med-high)
- Kasih, definitely for male voice and DEFINITELY with all those dangerous falsetti for the last 2 pages ! Many thanx, Akis, for those beautiful, beautiful ones you did. I know you have worked a lot for it. My appreciation is never enough !
Apart from those songs, the rest can be sung by either male or female voice.

The next few days will be completely occupied by the Ananda Sukarlan Award, a national piano competition here in Jakarta. Chendra my manager has created a new blog containing all the infos about this event ; check it out at http://www.maestroatforty.blogspot.com . Yes, it's with the www in front, I don't know how Chendra did it. Anyway, let me use this opportunity to thank Chendra as well ; he's the person behind the scene of all those events, and I just don't understand how he managed to organize all of this. These organizing business is all Greek to me. My job is just writing all those notes, which I must admit, is 10 times easier than controlling our office with 7 people working simultaneously. I don't think I can even manage writing a 7-part fugue !