Ananda Sukarlan – September is just gone!

This article was originally published on Ananda Sukarlan’s blog

Ananda Sukarlan

Ananda Sukarlan

September has passed, and it’s been a super-busy month, although it seems like I was enjoying life. The month opened with my concert with the Nusantara Symphony Orchestra in Jakarta, and joining my friend, the conductor Addie MS we performed Yazeed Djamin’s masterpiece, “Variation on the song Sepasang Mata Bola” as well as the short “Warsaw Concerto” by Richard Addinsell. The theme Sepasang Mata Bola is from an old song by the late popular songwriter Ismail Marzuki, written during the war years. Yazeed managed to elaborate that song into a 23-minute sort of piano concerto, which is not easy, considering that the tune itself is so complete in itself. I was even told that Ismail Marzuki couldn’t read n write notes, so obviously he didn’t think of melodic motifs and all those “intellectual” ways of writing music. In fact, that’s the thing that he did best: writing beautiful lyrics and long, winding tunes. For him it was as simple as opening the tap. I wish I could do that, without all those musical knowledge I acquired from my education that only served to raise the level of procrastination and anxiety of doing (artistic) things. Beethoven could write a whole symphony by playing around with a motif as silly as 3 short notes and 1 long note, but try to give him a very long & memorable tune like Ismail Marzuki’s, see if he could elaborate it for a symphony without any problems. Remember, young composers: the simpler and shorter the motif, the easier and bigger possibilities it has to elaborate. __________________________________________________________________ Where am I? Oh yes, superbusy September. After that performance I went back home directly to Spain the day after, since I had to write the music for the film “Hari Ini Pasti Menang” (”Today we shall win”) by the director Andibachtiar Yusuf. Mostly the music is for orchestra, and I received help from my friends at Institut Musik Indonesia to do it with the computer program Reason 5. It sounds 90% like a real orchestra, and to make it even more real, I am using a few real, human musicians too to mix it with the sounds produced by the software. Writing for orchestra of course takes at least 5-10 times the time to write than for, say, piano solo, so around 20 minutes of orchestral music of this film was done during last month. The rest are for some solo and chamber music, and I am also playing some piano parts (and solo) in the soundtrack. Thanks to Nia and Sammy from IMI for helping with all those computer gadgets. I am sending Sammy my music through computer, and he converted to sounds and sends it back to me. ______________________________________________________________________ And during the second half of September I also started practising that gigantic, mammoth, overblown piece, Turangalila Symphony of Olivier Messiaen. It is a work for piano, ondes martenot and (very) big orchestra that lasts for 1,5 hours, in 10 movements. The piano part itself is 140 pages. I don’t know whether this, or Ferruccio Busoni’s Piano Concerto is the longest in the repertory of piano and orchestra. I have performed Turangalila several times, not every year, and I always remember the most important thing to do before going on stage : go to the toilet. You’d be stuck on stage for 1,5 hours. I have also done something even heavier : performing “20 visions on the child Jesus” by the same composer. Yeah, that’s 20 movements and it’s for … piano solo !! I’ve done it several times too, but that was until around 7 or 8 years ago. So, no rests at all, no orchestra playing while you rest your poor fingers during that 1,5 hours. Messiaen was a kind of 20th century Bach, who wrote everything “dedicated to the glory of God” and that we, the poor musicians playing his music should do anything to reach that superhuman level of virtuosity to be nearer to God, I guess. Anyway, I still have less than 2 weeks, since the concert is scheduled for the 15th of October in the beautiful Royal Opera House just in the garden of the Royal Palace (imagine having an opera house with a capacity of 2000+ in your garden!), and repeated on the 17th at the National Auditorium .

OK then, enough blogging and back to practice …

Ananda Sukarlan

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