miércoles, 20 de septiembre de 2017

Kata Pengantar untuk Final Kompetisi Piano Nusantara, Agustus 2017

Following my article for The Jakarta Post I posted a few days ago, here is my own writing for the program book of the Final Round of Kompetisi Piano Nusantara 2017. This is a competition held in several cities (as you can read in the previous entry) and the Finals are in Jakarta, where winners of the regional semi finals are given scholarship to Jakarta to join the finals and to join masterclasses. This is in Indonesian, so please use google translate. It's talking (and to be precise, lamenting) about the conditions of piano competitions in Indonesia that is wildly proliferating and, some of them, lacking qualities. ............................................................................................................................................ Dear para pemenang, ............................................................................................................................................ Kompetisi Piano Nusantara edisi pertama sudah sampai di penghujung, dan kami para penyelenggara ingin mengucapkan selamat kepada anda semua, para pemenang. Anda bukan hanya pemenang kompetisi piano, tapi pemenang dalam kehidupan. Soalnya, seorang pemenang adalah seseorang yang mengenali talenta yang diberikan Tuhan, mendedikasikan hidupnya dengan fokus untuk mengembangkannya menjadi ketrampilan, dan menggunakan ketrampilan ini untuk meraih cita-citanya yang nantinya akan berguna buat orang banyak (yang akan lebih baik lagi kalau bukan hanya untuk orang-orang terdekatnya yang berpendapat, berpandangan politik atau beragama yang sama). ............................................................................................................................................ Ini adalah kompetisi untuk membuat kita semua jadi lebih baik, bukan hanya ajang guru-guru rebutan murid atau berusaha membuat kelompok sendiri untuk menjatuhkan kelompok (baca: sekolah musik) yang lain. Kompetisi ini ditujukan untuk generazi Z yang katanya lebih tidak fokus daripada generasi milenial karena adanya social media dan gadgets, yang attention span-nya juga lebih rendah tapi lebih serba-bisa; lebih individual, lebih global, berpikiran lebih terbuka, lebih cepat terjun ke dunia kerja dan profesionalisme, lebih toleran dan tentu saja lebih ramah teknologi. Menurut saya, inilah generasi paling berpengaruh, unik, dan beragam dari yang pernah ada dalam sejarah manusia. Di generasi Z lah kita menaruh harapan bahwa musik sastra Indonesia bisa bersanding dengan musik negara-negara lain yang sudah lebih dahulu maju, atau .... yang tidak bisa mempertahankan supremasinya seperti di beberapa negara asalnya di Eropa. Generasi Z lah yang akan mengerti bagaimana mengimplementasikan musik sastra Indonesia untuk kemakmuran dan menaikkan kecerdasan bangsa di saat jurang perbedaan semakin lebar antara yang kaya dan yang miskin, yang progresif dan yang konservatif, yang terdidik dan yang tertinggal karena termakan tipuan atau iming-iming surga dari ajaran-ajaran agama yang sesat. Dan ini semua harus dilakukan di era social media yang merajai kehidupan kita serta media cetak yang besok lusa akan punah. ............................................................................................................................................ Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn. Dan di Kompetisi Piano Nusantara ini, we are all winners, tapi juga we are all learners, trying to be better than we are now. ............................................................................................................................................ Ananda Sukarlan, twitter & IG : @anandasukarlan

lunes, 18 de septiembre de 2017

When Winning is not Everything (Jakarta Post, Nov. 30, 2016)

As usual, this article that I post here is the original, unedited and uncut. But since this article was published, 2 more organizers held this competition: Nitya Music Studio in Surabaya and Melodi Musik at Semarang. ............................................................................................................................................ Indonesian problems need Indonesian solutions. This magic formula of mine has, time and again, proved to work in classical music. We can observe the bleak classical music scene in Europe from our country with a telescope, and imagine that it could be the future for us. And the good news is, we can enter a paralel universe where the future is finer. Where classical music is alienated in the society no more. Where it is a natural part of young people's lives. Where people could naturally differentiate it from pop music, just as they could easily differentiate tweets, facebook status from poetry and novels. But of course to create that future we should work on the present. ............................................................................................................................................ Nusantara Piano Competition (Kompetisi Piano Nusantara) is a new concept that could contribute to this future. It has the idea to prepare young pianists under 18 to join the "tougher" competitions. It suits very well for this country which is so spread out both geographically and culturally, and joining competitions can be a big financial issue, since the participants have to think about the plane tickets and accomodations, let alone adapting themselves to another city (in case of Jakarta, a bigger one with its traffic problems). The concept is that organizers in their respective cities organize a local competition, and then the winner of each city would be eligible to do the Grand Finale in Jakarta. Grazioso Music School (Makassar, 6-7 November), Nirai Music School (Jogjakarta, 17-18), Musicland (Bandung, 25-26) and Ananda Sukarlan Center (Jakarta, 27) teamed up and each organized a competition which happily resulted in approximately 200 young pianists participating, with the youngest being 5 years old. With this concept, someone from Semarang could just join in Jogjakarta, and the one from Palu could go to the nearest city, Makassar. And as I expected, hidden amazing talents have been spotted. The Nusantara competition is a very friendly one, unlike the Ananda Sukarlan Award, which is considered tough and designed for the very prepared pianists who are at the first steps of making a career. The idea is to show (very) young pianists that competitions are not meant to "kill" them. Everyone is a winner and they can prepare any kind of music they want. The 2 requirements they have to comply are: 1. They have to prepare 2 pieces, one by an Indonesian composer and the other by a classical international one such as Bach, Schumann and such. 2. The duration, which as usual there is a limit. The end of November marked its finalization in 4 cities of Indonesia. The first prizewinners of the advanced category (13-17 years) are : Vivienne Thamrin (Makassar), Ralf Vivaldo (Jogjakarta), and a double first prizewinners Michael Manuel Halim and M. Khidir Malik for Bandung. Nobody reached the standard minimum point in Jakarta for this category, so the First Prize was not awarded. Surabaya is postponed for now and the competition is looking for another local partner organizer. Other cities are welcome to join in for organizing one before the Grand Final in Jakarta in the mid of the year 2017 where the finalists have to prepare other 2 pieces with the same requierements but different from the ones played in the semifinal rounds. ............................................................................................................................................ Music competitions are the usual way of starting a musical career. In the piano world, one usually join competitions when they are under 26 or 27 years old. I never take a musician seriously if they never joined a competition in their lives. Even if one doesn't win, joining a competition proves that one is serious in pursuing one's musical career, or at least testing one's capability in music. For me, joining already means winning. Winning against yourself, winning against your own fear. If you don't fight for what you love, don't cry for what you lose. But the toughest competition is not against other musicians. It's against yourself. You are your worst enemy. ............................................................................................................................................ There are, then, the ones who win prizes. I have observed some traits of these prizewinners: 1. They know how to choose their music which suits their personality and contains depth of artistry, a wide range of pianistic techniques, colours and dynamics and a rich variety of contrasts and characters. A few of them fell into the trap of picking "easy listening --and easy playing" music which couldn't exhibit their artistry and virtuosity to full throttle. The contrary also happened: a few picked pieces of music which are too difficult or advanced for them. 2. They perform to express, not to impress. They communicate, not to show off. Some pianists can shine bright in fast passages but become so dull in slow parts, where melodies abound and beauty is exposed simply in bare passages without any virtuosic cosmetics. It is not easy to be simple; in fact, simplicity is the peak of sophistication. Those deep and quiet passages, instead of the ones full of exhilarating running notes and sizzling chords and octaves, are the ultimate test of the artistry of a musician. ............................................................................................................................................ Since piano competitions have now proliferated like mushrooms in this country, it is inevitable that there are positive and negative impacts. Unfortunately, there is still no standardization as well as the assessment of the quality of the judges (and organizers) so the participants often become victims, either intentionally or unintentionally. Indonesia is perhaps now the country with the most piano competitions in the world. There is one organized almost every weekend, although still mostly in Java. Some of them are controlled by business people, although claiming to "understand" or even having the basic techniques and knowledge in music, their aim is to amass money from the (some still) ignorant young pianists, their parents and piano teachers through backdoor business: secret agreements, commissions, nepotism etc. It is the ugly business of beautiful music. But we should be optimistic that quantity would ultimately give way to quality, and that participants of the future would be more selective in choosing which competitions they would join. ............................................................................................................................................ That is why transparency was, and will always be my basic requirement when "Nusantara" organizers (or therefore any other competitions) asked me to be their patron and the head of the jury in several cities. Each of the judges' comments and points are written down, signed by the judge, and handed to the participants after the competition is finished. If they (do not) like what the judges write, they are free to post it in social media. Indeed the social media should be a big help in this issue, since everyone is also free to record their performance and post it on YouTube. It is time for the participants to speak out against injustice in the competitions before it's too late. The judges' decisions are final, but everyone can listen to the performances and have their own opinions too. It is up to them then to speak out or not. Laymen of the arts are not eligible to judge in official competitions, and what they express could not alter the results of the competition. But as Desmond Tutu said once, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." Experts are eligible, sure, but they should not contribute only with their expertise, but also with honesty. This latter is not written down in the contract, since it is almost impossible to prove in this artistic world filled with ambiguity. And this is the moment when you can be part of the rise (or fall) of classical music in our country.

martes, 20 de junio de 2017

The Voyage to Marege' , captain's log stardate 200617

The music on my computer at the moment is in fact not so different from Rapsodia Nusantara, although it's much bigger. The Voyage To Marege' is a 25-minute orchestral piece, to be performed in Jakarta on August 31st this year, and in Darwin International Festival next June 2018. It is a joint project & commission by the Australian Embassy in Indonesia and the Darwin Festival, and some other organizations have shown interest in participating or programming this work .... scarily enough for me, with yet listening to one note of it. ............................................................................................................................................ My mission, should I choose to accept this (oh, so Mission Impossible-ish, eh) is to study the relationship between the Makassar (Sulawesi) sailors and the Aborigins in the 18th century, where the Makassians sailed for trading spices with teripang (a kind of sea creature). I accepted it this challenge with huge pleasure, since this is an opportunity for me to study the real indigenous music of the Aborigins to be used as a material in my music. Which is not so different to what I did with Indonesian traditional music in my Rapsodia Nusantara numbers. And these last few days I am remembering my late and highly inspirational friend, the Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014) and why and how he had been so successful in "stealing" instead of "borrowing" the indigenous musical materials. ............................................................................................................................................ The endeavours of Australian musicians in the 19th and 20th century prior to Peter Sculthorpe to make Aboriginal music accessible to the general public often displayed a kind of cultural imperialism: making corrections and rearrangements, and clothing melodies in European harmonies and rhythms, so that they "suit better with the ears" and easier to be adapted with western aesthetic sensibilities. In the book "Australian Aboriginal Music" edited by Jennifer Isaacs, Sculthorpe cites a fascinating example of this when he describes an item he found in the State Library of Tasmania entitled ‘Song of the Aborigines of Van Diemen's Land’, ‘arranged by a Mrs Logan and Done by Mifs (sic.)’. Sculthorpe relates that ‘the naked innocence of the chant is clothed in Mendelssohn-like harmonies, supported by an Alberti bass, and crowned with, believe it or not, a Viennese Ländler’ . .............................................................................................................................................. I have heard and studied some Australian composers' works prior to Peter Sculthorpe such as Mirrie Hill's Arnhem Land Symphony, or John Antill's Corroborree where they used the indigenous Aboriginal melodies, and found these traits : 1. the derived material may be so abstracted from its original form as to lose its recognizable identity. 2. in an attempt to accommodate this fact, the composer may contrive the musical expression to the extent that the derived material is caricatured 3. the material may be allowed to retain its recognizable identity and is ‘framed’ by rather than integrated into the musical fabric. ............................................................................................................................................ What distinguishes Peter Sculthorpe from his predecessors is that he was (in the 1980's) indirectly influenced by Aboriginal music, even though they did not employ direct quotation. Curiously enough, for most of his early career Sculthorpe had consciously avoided the use of actual Aboriginal melodies, instead making deliberate use of Japanese and Balinese melodies and styles. Despite Sculthorpe's acknowledged debt to Asia, his music actually ends up sounding closer to that of the Australian Aborigines in many of its attributes, such as the reliance on drones, rhythmic ostinati, percussive sounds and a certain static, endless quality. In Sculthorpe's music, indigenous melodies sound like essential components of his idiom rather than foreign objects. .............................................................................................................................................. I believe Sculthorpe has been more successful than many of his predecessors in creating a smooth synthesis of western and indigenous musical material, for two reasons: firstly, Sculthorpe has carefully chosen melodies that would easily conform to his style and that, in some cases, echo motives previously occurring in his music; and, secondly, he has consciously moulded his style around particular indigenous melodies that he recycles. ............................................................................................................................................ To sum up: Sculthorpe's adoption of Aboriginal beliefs and values could be viewed in two ways. On the one hand, his identification with Aboriginal attitudes could again be viewed as subtle exploitation, using Aboriginal culture to position himself at the spiritual core of Australian identity. On the other hand, the depth and persistence of Sculthorpe's attachment to Indigenous values arguably demonstrates a respect for Aboriginal culture. His attention to Aboriginal melodies has placed Aboriginal music in the spotlight, creating greater public awareness of the richness of indigenous cultures.

sábado, 6 de mayo de 2017

The Forms of Things Unknown

It was really a happy coincidence when Helen Gumanti, pianist and representative of Fazioli & Bluthner pianos asked me to do a piece for multiple pianos based on a section of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". My first piece for 4 pianos was based on the first two lines of "Richard III" : Now is the winter of our discontent.... . To do that I used Vivaldi's theme from his famous "Winter" of the Four Seasons and mixed it with contemporary riffs inspired by Michael Jackson (to be honest, I forgot which song in particular, .... or perhaps there was no song in particular of MJ?). ............................................................................................................................................ Since I wrote Vivaldi's Winter of Discontent I always thought of writing another piece for multiple pianos to complement it. For this new piece, it is for 3 pianos as Helen Gumanti requested, and I used part of Theseus's speech and took the phrase The Forms of Things Unknown as the title. I started sketching it in Jakarta and these days while I am in Surabaya I worked and finished it during the flight from Jakarta (we had 1 hour extra being inside the plane without taking off, waiting for the queue of other planes to take off at Soekarno Hatta Airport! To be honest, I was busy composing so it didn't feel like 1 hour) and in my hotel room. ............................................................................................................................................ The creative process for "Forms" is different from "Winter" : I took these phrases and use it as a method for composing : And as imagination bodies forth / The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen / Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing / A local habitation and a name. ............................................................................................................................................ Therefore the piece is built of small motifs that just develop themselves, among others by repetitions. But there is one motif that goes through transformation throughout the whole piece: 4 notes ascending, and then descending. Those four notes changed from whole tone scale into a pentatonic scale and even octotonic scale. ............................................................................................................................................ As usual in my "percussive" pieces, I use very strong rhythms. Besides, Chendra Panatan will do a choreography of this piece too, so the piece is definitely "danceable". For my rhythms, my orientations are always those rock groups of the 80s and 90s such as Pet Shop Boys, Queen and my biggest influence of all time, Michael Jackson. But after I finished "Forms", I realized that A-Ha's "Take on Me" is everywhere in the piece; I guess it was because I put it in my songlist during my flight to Surabaya. ............................................................................................................................................ Anyway, I am here in Surabaya as the judge for the Nusantara Piano Competition. After Surabaya, it will be Semarang in July, and then the finals in August in Jakarta. But there will be another round of semifinal in Jakarta, so those of you young pianists who didn't join it before, or joined it but didn't get to the finals, you can have another opportunity by joining it in Jakarta. You can check their instagram account at @pianonusantara. Anyway, good luck for all pianists and piano lovers!

martes, 25 de abril de 2017

Sadomasochism in (my) Music?

10 years after I wrote Rescuing Ariadne for flute & piano that I planned to be the first piece of a trilogy, today a message arrived suddenly when I was at the Kualalumpur airport from my highly esteemed flutist friend, Wendela van Swol who also champions many of my works for flute, saying that she would perform Rescuing Ariadne and Narcissus Dying (my second piece in the planned trilogy) at the Andalusian Flute Convention "Flautissima" in about two weeks time. I thought this would be the right time to finish the third piece, Ixion, Bound to a Wheel of Fire, and so on the plane back to Jakarta I started working on it again. After I arrived home I immediately tried it on my piano in my apartment, and after a few revisions, I sent it to Wendela directly. ............................................................................................................................................ This last piece of my Trilogy is inspired first by the painting of Jose de Ribera I observed at the Museo del Prado (Madrid) several times. The last time I saw it was during the summer of 2016, where somehow it electrified me more than the other times I saw it. Perhaps it was because I read Ovid's Metamorphosis about Ixion before I came to the museum. As with the other pieces in this trilogy, I can't tell you whether they were more inspired by the paintings or by Ovid's Metamorphosis which lies beside my bed already for so many years. ............................................................................................................................................ I quote the explanation of the painting from Del Prado's website: The father of the race of centaurs, Ixion was punished by madness for murdering his father-in-law. After he was pardoned he attempted to supplant Jupiter in Juno’s bed and was consequently condemned to be turned on a wheel for all eternity. Ribera depicts the wheel being set in motion by a satyr who has chained Ixion to it, allowing the artist to display his mastery of anatomy. ............................................................................................................................................ According to Ovid's "Metamorphosis", this is a wheel of fire, which also sparks the inspiration for my piece. This certainly is the most virtuosic of the pieces in the trilogy, and it should be played as fast as possible so that it lasts under 2 minutes. The crescendi and diminuendi are very important to be exaggerated since they depict the sparks of wild fire and the rotating wheel. The duration of the whole trilogy would then be around 12 minutes. ............................................................................................................................................ I dedicate this piece, affectionately to the flutist Roberto Alvarez , a member of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra who has performed many of my flute pieces. After I sketched the piece a few months ago, thinking to give it as a surprise gift to Roberto, it was just lying around for a few months since I sort of knew what I would write. Wendela's message also forced me to think about the general title of the trilogy. I've been tinkering with the title for a long time. The funny thing is that all 3 pieces have sadomasochistic aspects with these heroes. I thought of quite a naughty title, but I abandoned the idea (and I'm not telling it to you!) and succumbed to a simpler title, "Trilogia Mitologica". My trio for flute, viola & piano has already a naughty title, as you know, Menage a Trois , and I am not putting more naughty titles for the moment he he he .... The order of the pieces is Rescuing Ariadne, Narcissus Dying and Ixion, Bound to a Wheel of Fire. ............................................................................................................................................ Trilogia Mitologica as a whole, will receive its World Premiere at the closing of the Andalusia Flute Convention "Flautissima", May 7th in a matinee concert in Malaga. Performed by Wendela van Swol (flute) and Santiago Baez (piano). Each piece could, in fact, be played separately, but it would be rather strange to perform "Ixion" separately since it's only about 2 minutes long, right?

sábado, 11 de marzo de 2017

Rapsy Littlehands, and one thing about Rapsy 18

With so many children prodigies on the piano, many of them (or their parents or teachers) asked me if there is a Rapsodia Nusantara, without being less virtuosic, that is playable by small hands. That means there are no chords that span wider than a 7th, since playing octaves is still quite difficult for them. I indeed have thought about it for a long time. It's not easy to make, since we usually need those octaves in the climactic sections. This is a unique period in classical music (and mostly cases in Asian countries), where children already acquired the pianistic techniques of the adults, but of course physically they are still, well, children. And virtuosic works for piano usually need big hands that can strech the interval of an octave or more. ............................................................................................................................................ Since I was stuck (already about a year or more) with my Second Balinese Mosquito Dance, I thought that it might be a material to be integrated into a Rapsy. And voila, I was right. This new Rapsy has a Toccata mood. It is also a break from the previous Rapsies which turn to be more and more heavily contrapuntal. Through the years I've grown an affinity with the passacaglia form, and both Rapsy 17 and 18 have passacaglias (it started already with Rapsy 10). I still don't give a number to this Rapsodia, which is based on a central-Javanese folktune "Padhang Wulan". ............................................................................................................................................ One thing I forgot in my preface for Rapsy 18 is about the beginning of the piece. Those tremoli are inspired by gangsing (or "gasing" according to some provinces in Indonesia), a toy made of wood or bamboo which I couldn't find the English translation to it. During my childhood, I dreamed about making music out of gangsing of different sizes. Gangsing turns with a gyroscopic law, and a small hole on it makes the wind blow inside and sounds into a certain pitch. Apparently the oldest gangsing in Indonesia is in Riau, since before the Dutch colonization, and therefore this Rapsy (which is based on a folktune from Riau province) is appropriate to be opened with a gangsing-effect prelude.

martes, 10 de enero de 2017

Bagaskara's In Love

Still about Annanolli's Sky (please check my previous entry). I told ya that I wanna write this music which is just an exhibition of combining vibrant and dark colours, without so much sturm und drang. Sort of like the new Zhang Yimou film, The Great Wall which is a delight to the eye. In the architectural plan of the music, there is about 2,5 minutes of slow music, sandwiched between fast sections, and of course I thought "oh it will come". And the time did come, but "it" didn't. I just didn't have any clue what to write, or on the contrary, I had every possible motifs worked out, developed, exploited and with all the compositional techniques inside my bag of tricks, somehow it still didn't work. I knew what was the problem. I always know HOW to write, but I don't always know WHAT to write. I was clueless about the character, about what to express. I was stuck for about a week, a week spent writing other "useless" music, going out with friends, and oh yes, it was around New Year, and I got drunk for about 3 days in a row, until ..... A young friend popped up through Whatsapp. He asked me for some time to listen to his life problems. And yeah, he is in love. Not that tormented love that I used to have; this is plain, simple, straightforward love. The kind of love that I need to express in this particular music. Becoz ... u know how to write music, right? Fall in love, get your heart broken, analyze it, turn it into music. The greatest art are always made with a broken heart. But certainly this method doesn't work for the slow part of Annanolli's Sky, which is so vibrant and exuberant. And I don't want to involve my own past (which is painful, therefore always inspirational) in this music, coz memories are the worst enemy of the heart trying to heal from the wounds of the past. ............................................................................................................................................ And hey, he has a nice name too, Bagaskara which means Sunrise. What could be more vibrant than sunrises? And those 9 letters make a sweet 4 notes from the pentatonic motif connected with my first theme with an extra tritone, from A to (e)S, which makes it even more strangely exquisite. I start to believe in destiny ... and Ecclesiastes 5:11, you know, God makes everything beautiful in His time. And so I started to sketch the piece. I designed it to be playable as a separate piece for violin and piano, of course with the quintet in my mind. So, I finished Bagaskara's In Love, a 2'20 piece for violin and piano, and I will orchestrate it and link it to the first section of Annanolli's Sky. .............................................................................................................................................. I know, I know, you're gonna ask me, well this has nothing to do with Annanolli's works? No, of course not. But a work of art, though inspired by another work of art, is independent in itself. It is a diary of the artist's life, at that moment, and simply a development of a series of musical materials. And well, I could argue that this kinda love is exactly what is needed in my piece. Not a tormented, or unrequited, or dramatic one. In fact, I gave an advice to my young B friend, that while they are separated in distance, just look at the sky and remember that they both are looking at the same sky. The sky, as anything else in nature connects us, not those shitty Whatsapp Video call or Skype. Those are electronics, artificially made by man to give artificial closeness and togetherness. And then, Bagaskara's In Love was written very quickly and almost intuitively, just like many of Annanolli's works. It was written in the night right after I finished talking with B, took me about an hour and I revised a few things the next day after I tried it on my piano. ............................................................................................................................................ Thank you God for making this couple in love and solve my musical problem!

jueves, 5 de enero de 2017

In Search of Another Sky

(my own program notes for Annanolli's Sky for piano & string quartet) ............................................................................................................................................ The sky always have romantic implications for me. When I miss someone I love, I always look at the sky and imagine that we are looking at the same sky, no matter how far our distance is. "The sky is an immortal tent built by the Sons of Los / And every space that a man views around his dwelling-place / Standing on his own roof or in his garden on a mount / Of twenty-five cubits in height, such space is his universe", said William Blake. ............................................................................................................................................ But then, "There is another sky, / Ever serene and fair, / And there is another sunshine, / Though it be darkness there" said Emily Dickinson. And I, throughout my life, have been searching for this other sky. And since I couldn't find it in the sky we are all under, then I search for it in the skies we artificially --and beautifully-- created, through works of art. .............................................................................................................................................. I have always been impressed by John Constable's Study of Clouds at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Practically any Turner sky touches my heart deeply, but the late skyscapes (does this word exist?), generally painted at sunrise, often on the spot, and very nearly abstract, for me are more sublime than anything in the history of English art. .............................................................................................................................................. I have written my work for flute and piano, Rescuing Ariadne, based on Titian's painting Bacchus & Ariadne to which I have stared at (even gazed is a better word, since it's like a shining bright star for me) hours and hours at the National Gallery every time I visited London. Of course it is a masterpiece, but during the years I started to realize that I am more impressed by the sky he created. He painted eight glimmering stars, a silver lining and a faint glow from the east: it's a small corner of deep blue heaven. Even if you didn't know that the scene below represented love at first sight, you would still sense some poignant dawning in the sky above – the exact transition between darkness and light. Titian is, as far as I know, not known as a painter of skies; of all the great claims you could make for him, this would probably be the most kitsch. But the sky in Bacchus and Ariadne is as wondrous, and profound, as the whole painting itself. ............................................................................................................................................ Recently I attended the opening of an exhibition by a Finnish artist, Tero Annanolli in Jakarta, organized by the Embassy of Finland here. What struck me is how unromantic his skies are. ............................................................................................................................................ His paintings are based on the material of the "canvas". I managed to talk with him briefly, asking this techniques, his artistic views etc., and I transcribe what I heard from him in the following. If you read this, Tero, please correct me if there is something wrong here. ............................................................................................................................................ The creative process itself is fast and intuitive. He uses ink, tempera, oil paint, acrylic and ballpoint pen and charcoal technique. The artist uses in his painting also of metal sheets to create several layers and shades. He also employs recycled materials such as curtains, tablecloths, bedspreads. The recycled material gives the work its significance. Basic materials are part of the colors and the message of the painting. The issues that occupies this fascinating artist are plants, flowers, landscapes, boats and human figures. In representing humanity Tero is passionate about the relationship between a man and landscape and the surrounding space. ............................................................................................................................................ So you see, he didn't really mention about the sky. The space, yes, since it is part of the "canvas". Well, we composers use silence as the canvas of our music. And it is that very space that fascinates me. I am trying to make music without any significant melody, unlike the music I have written before. I try to bring forward that space, that sky which makes his paintings look so different than the others I have seen. It's another step of my search for Dickinson's other sunshine, though it be darkness there. That splendid, silent sky. Anyhow, we are all under it, you and I. ............................................................................................................................................ My new work for piano quintet (piano & string quartet) Annanolli's Sky, is commissioned to open the Arnuero International Chamber Music Competition next April 7th. It will be premiered by the Cuarteto Ars Hispanica with myself on the piano. The duration is ca. 10 minutes