sábado, 14 de noviembre de 2009

The power of your lips

The Jakarta New Year Concert (JNYC) is gonna be in about 45 days from now. Preparations are going well, tickets are selling, and the management team is focusing the publicity on my second cantata "LIBERTAS" as the main course of the program, not only because it is a colossal work, but also the whole management team were impressed when they saw it during its world premiere by its commissioner, Bimasena, last August. It contains famous heroic poems such as Chairil Anwar's "Krawang-Bekasi" and Archibald MacLeish's "The Young Dead Soldiers", and to hear them turned into music is quite a surprising revelation for those who know the poems well. It is quite normal that they hold on to a piece which they know and fascinated with, and firmly believe that it will give a big impact to the audience.

But there is another piece in the program which now I also consider important in my opus, and that is the dance-work "Bibirku Bersujud di Bibirmu". The free translation would be like "My lips bow (or surrender ?) to your lips", or that my lips are conquered by yours. I know, I know, it sounds strange in English, but it is very poetic in Indonesian. And it's not only the title that is so touching; the whole poem is so poignant and moving. It is by an Indonesian poet of about the same age of mine, Hasan Aspahani who I admire so much, have talked to so many times through the internet but still haven't got the pleasure to meet personally. He's told me that he will travel to Jakarta (he lives in Batam Island) to attend the concert (I also set another poem of his, "Palestina" as the second number of LIBERTAS).
"Bibirku" is a virtuosic work that consists of two sections : the first is a trio for piano, alto flute (doubling "normal" flute) and violin, and the second is for soprano & piano (where the poem is set to music). Each section can be performed separately. Chendra Panatan will choreograph the first section. We won't call it a ballet, because it is not. In fact, the dancers will work on complex movements with hundreds of meters of materials, which will spectacularly give the impression of the waves. The poem is about love and destruction and inspired by the great tsunami of Sumatra in 2004. The big form of "Bibirku" is quite straightforward, but the intricate details gave me a hard time in composing it, since I am employing complex harmonic progressions especially for the noisy "tsunami" middle section (what for, you ask? Ain't I missing the point of just making a big noise instead of worrying about the harmonies for it? Yes, but somehow my pretentious artistic intentions make my life even more complicated, he he ...). And those harmonies are in fact quite dissonant and adventurous (especially for such a festive concert like the JNYC !), although it begins and ends with a melodic, expressive and very tonal love music. But I am sure that the Indonesian classical music lovers are prepared for it; at least its visual and choreographic aspect will be quite amazing. You might think that you don't like strange, modern classical music of Bartok or Shostakovich, but then you unconsciously listened to it --and loved it, right?-- in films such as Harry Potter or Sleepy Hollow. And d'you know that Stanley Kubrick used that haunting, eerie and fascinating music of Gyorgy Ligeti in his films, such as 2001 Space Odyssey or Eyes Wide Shut ? Aren't they marvellous?

"Bibirku Bersujud di Bibirmu" will receive its world premiere at the Jakarta New Year concert, January 3rd 2010, by Inez Raharjo -violin, Elizabeth Ashford -alto flute, Aning Katamsi -soprano and myself on the piano