jueves, 2 de febrero de 2012

What's wrong with being Indonesian (or Chinese)?

For me, nothing. On the contrary, I am f***ing proud to be Indonesian, especially after having lived in Europe for the last 24 years of my life (which is the most part of it) and realized that we are no better or worse. And I will show my discomfort if I am being rejected not for what I have done, but for what I am, among which is being Indonesian.

A few days ago (in January) Chendra my manager sent me an announcement of a national piano competition in Indonesia (for teenagers and below) and .. here are two things that made me uncomfortable:

1. One of the jury members is Ananda Sukarlan (eh? what a surprise! Another pianist in Indonesia with that name? Or maybe he's not a pianist but a politician or a businessman, as it's pretty trendy now to have them as juries in a piano, nota bene classical music, competition in Indonesia, and therefore I don't know him).

I want to copy and paste what I have written just a few weeks ago in this blog (about fakely using my office to promote a Korean boyband) again here:
I might be the most badly bruised musician in Indonesia. My music has been pirated and used without my permission (oops sorry, I should say they indeed asked for permission, but after Chendra caught them red-handed). Not only my music: an article from this very blog has been published in a major newspaper in Indonesia under a different name -- and yes, translated in Indonesian, therefore it couldn't be categorized as plagiarism. And now just my name, not my work, is used. And this case of using my name is not the first time that it happened, but since this very moment those who does anything of this will have the honour of being mentioned by me in my facebook and twitter account. I avoid names in this blog since this will stay a longer time, but the name of those honoured are very clearly mentioned in my facebook & twitter.

2. For the repertoire, after all those Chopins, Schuberts and Bachs, "Indonesian and Chinese composers are excluded".

I immediately went to the mirror after I read this. What's wrong with being Indonesian or Chinese? Of course I am not an especially handsome guy (I admit I do have a low self-esteem about my looks), but think of ... emmm ... Jet Li or, since we are talking about music (in any genre), what do you think of Jay Chou? And in Indonesia, isn't that pop-singer "Ariel" who now went to jail for reasons I don't understand, or actor Nicholas Saputra, or Anggun who is highly adored by the French considered universally beautiful? What is it then, our noses? Our heights?
Oh, oh, it's not about looks? Then what, about brains? Well I don't mean to boast myself, but my IQ has been tested several times and the results are always higher than 150. Indeed, I failed to enter MENSA (the international club for the elite geniuses) since I am just a few points away from requirement of 160 to belong to their exclusive club. But I do believe there are many highly smart Indonesians and Chinese that have contributed to the arts and science. Just think of the new generation of Indonesian writers: smart, sharp and brilliant. Many Indonesians are now having top positions in Silicon valley and universities around Europe, the US and Asia (I will exclude China, it belongs to the same dustbin as Indonesia, right?).

Wait, perhaps it's about musicianship! We are not as musical as the rest of the world! Well... let's see. Then why did Debussy, Britten, even until now Peter Scuthorpe, David del Puerto, and even younger composers are so amazed and highly influenced by the gamelan, kecak dance and so on? And in case you don't know, our traditional instruments such as angklung is declared World cultural heritage by UNESCO. Gamelan music is now as universally acclaimed as music by European classical composers, Brazilian samba or jazz.

Oh, perhaps it's this. We, Indonesian and Chinese composers are not QUALIFIED enough, right? So, was I making a fool of myself (and of Indonesia) when I perform at Berlin Philharmonie, Concertgebouw etc.? Those conservatories or music faculties are making a mistake hiring me as guest lecturers, eh? And Tan Dun definitely didn't deserve his Oscar (and was it a Grammy too?) for his music for the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. And of course, our brilliant young generation such as soprano Bernadeta Astari shouldn't have made her debut at the Concertgebouw a few months ago. Right?

And how about Indonesian of a Chinese-descent Indonesian composer or vice versa? A double negative is a positive, right? Do they deserve to exist?

D'you know that the great Spanish writer Miguel Cervantes said: "When there is music, there are no bad intentions"? Yeah, nice phrase, but it can't be more outdated.

Two things for sure after an afterthought on this. But remember, this is just a humble opinion from another Indonesian who is excluded.
1. It is not cool, smart or artistic at all putting all Indonesian and Chinese composers into one trash bag. Especially by fellow Indonesians!
2. From those two requirements of that Piano Competition, held in Indonesia for Indonesian young pianists, only one will be realized: Indonesian and Chinese composers are indeed excluded, as they wished. But Ananda Sukarlan won't be serving as a jury. I won't possibly contribute in the exclusions of my own fellow countrymen, and especially after they used my name to sell their product. Over my dead body.