It's been an inspiring week working with vocalists of Musicasa with my works for (solo & duet) voice & piano, and working with 4 musicians in Singapore in premiering my work Vega & Altair at Esplanade the week before. I already wrote about how happy I was working with Katryna Tan, the harpist, in my previous entry, and it turned out that working with the other "more familiar" instrumentalists (flute, violin & cello) in this new & particular combination for me is also very nourishing.
Musicasa is a very high standard studio for voice training in Indonesia, and it has produced the best classical singers to date. Its founders are my good friends the conductor Tommy Prabowo and the baritone Joseph Kristanto, about whom I have written many times in this blog. And yeah, he is the dedicatee of my 5 songs for baritone & piano, "A untuk Akis, Alam & Angkasa", which will be performed in its entirity by his students in our final concert next week, Thursday the 25th, 7 p.m at Erasmus Huis.
Although I didn't write not even one new note for the last 10 days I do learn a lot, since I've been working with 27 singers with 27 (very) different characters and voice colours. It convinces me deeper that the human voice is not only the most beautiful musical instrument on this planet, but also the most versatile. Everyone is fantastic, each has his/her own strong points. It really has broadened my horizons on voice characteristics, and so I can, in the future, try new things and perhaps risking new kinds of virtuosity in writing for voice, since I feel (not only know) now its shortcomings, virtue and capabilities. Beware singers, I will write more difficult stuff in the future!
One thing in common with those young vocalists is that mostly, if not all of them, expected that they would get a "definitive version" of the song(s) they are singing by working with the composer. The composer, they think, knows best, and wants his work to sound exactly like "this" or "that". Wrong !! Well, of course I know more than them at this moment (during the interpreter's early stage of learning the music), but any composer would really love and appreciate having fresh approaches and interpretations from the singers. We composers need your intellectual & artistic contribution! That's why our music can be richer and alive, and in fact that's the advantage of music compared to the other fields of the arts. Once a painter finishes his painting, it will stay the same for the centuries to come, while a composer's job is not finished; it is continued by the musicians who interpret his music. The music always changes, and therefore I find those musicians who performs in "authentic instruments" and consulting "musicologists" (whatever this profession means!) to give "authentic performances", especially in music written during the period of Baroque, Bach and Before quite contradictive, and even absurd. Music is like a most beautiful human being. The composer gives birth to it, but it is the task of the musicians to nurture it and bring it up into a beautiful, kind & loving grown up creature .. and take care of it with love and attention so it would live long and prosper.