I have always admired the musical artistry of Aning Katamsi, as so have I always admired the poems of the recently departed WS Rendra. So when Aning, on behalf of her choir PARAGITA (who's gonna join forces with the ITB Choir singing my second cantata "Libertas" for the next New Year Concert -- having those 2 top Indonesian choirs sharing the stage is like having a (wet) dream come true !) commissioned me to write a choral piece using Rendra's poem to commemorate his passing away, I accepted it delightly without second thoughts ; even when the answer to my question about when the deadline would be was "a.s.a.p. please, since the concert will be next month." Ooops ...
But things got rather complicated, because apparently Rendra's poem has been set into a pop song by a pop songwriter, and he is the person who iniciated and organized this concert. So, what I should do is to "interpret" his song (Aning specifically told me not to "arrange" the song, so I guess the process would not be so different from my pieces such as the 3-pianos 6-pianists "Schumann's Psychosis" where I took Schumann's Toccata and "messed it all up", shall we say.)
The original song itself has the title Kantata [sic] Belavita (you know Indonesian pop musicians like to use the words "cantata", "symphony" and "opera" for their songs. I guess there are more "operas" in Indonesian pop music than the whole history of Italian music. I wonder why nobody puts other fancy titles such as Passacaglia or Concerto Grosso). So, certainly I wouldn't like to apply that title to my piece which definitely is NOT a cantata. He he .. in this case I really am an old-fashioned classical music composer. Therefore, my piece bears the fancy title "Choral Fantasy" (yeah, yeah, it sounds beethovenianly bombastic for a 6 and-a-half-minute piece, but at least it's correct!). But that's not the problem : the problem was that when I read the poem, I couldn't connect it to the pop song (I really tried, I did !). In other words, if I were given that poem, my tune and even the character of my music would sound completely different, and even directly opposed to the existing pop song which should be the basic material for my new piece.
So I was like the son of those old-fashioned parents who is told "Meet this girl, love her coz you're gonna marry her.", while I am like those rebellious sons who'd say "OK, I'll marry her but then I can have affairs with anybody I like". I guess the birth process of my Choral Fantasy was sort of like that. Therefore for my first extra-marital affair I took another element for my piece --to make things more complicated-- which is the rhythmic structure of Beethoven's First Movement of the famous 5th symphony. And so writing my Choral Fantasy became really fun !!
"Choral Fantasy" will be premiered on the 29th of October at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta by Aning Katamsi (soprano soloist) and the Paragita Choir accompanied by a pianist which I still do not know who will it be until now.