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Millennials making classical music great again

Ananda Sukarlan

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, May 30, 2017  /  09:17 am
Millennials making classical music great again

Classical music should be, like other art, concerned with the product itself, not with the person behind the product. (Shutterstock/File)

There is a myth that millennials get bored so fast by so much and won’t digest pedantic, long, uninteresting information. They live for “likes,” “followers” and updated tweets. But those things are, in fact, why classical music could thrive in Indonesia. This is the time for new artistic and showbiz models.

Gone should be those outdated ways of presenting concerts in which the audience members were supposed to be elite intellectuals who only pretended to understand the music presented without any mercy for those who don’t understand. We now need to explore new ways of presenting music whose musical notes heard by our ancestors.

As a classical musician, certainly one can’t expect to shine as bright as Rihanna, but that’s not the point either. Classical music should be, like other art, concerned with the product itself, not with the person behind the product. Today things are moving really fast and the ones who would achieve success are those who move as fast as if their phone battery is about to die.

Here are the seven most promising Indonesian millennial classical musicians of today. These four pianists, a violinist and two classical singers are ready to conquer the world.

Anthony Hartono was born in Magelang in 1995. His father owns some franchises of the “Es Murni” restaurant, founded by Anthony’s grandmother, and his mother teaches piano.

Anthony completed his bachelor’s degree at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore under the tutelage of Albert Tiu with a full scholarship.

In 2015, he was chosen to participate in the International Holland Music Sessions, with a full scholarship. It was here that he met his future professor, Teppo Koivisto, at the Sibelius Academy where he is currently pursuing his Master’s degree. He also excelled in chamber music, partnering with, among others, the renowned cellist Gary Hoffman. Anthony was selected as Indonesia’s music ambassador for the Summer Academy in Nice, France, last year.

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Edith Widayani has performed around the world, with recent performances around the United States, Europe, Colombia, China and Costa Rica. A recipient of a full-tuition scholarship from the Texas Christian University, she did her undergraduate degree under the guidance of Tamas Ungar, graduating magna cum laude in 2012.

The competition stage is also a format where Edith has achieved much success: most recently the 2017 Arnuero International Chamber Music Competition in Spain and the 2014 Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano. She also received an Award of Achievement in International Forum from the Tourism Ministry in Indonesia. Edith has a Master’s degree in Music from the Eastman School of Music in Performance and Literature and is currently pursuing a doctorate in musical arts.

Randy Ryan is currently entering his fourth year of piano performance in the prestigious Juilliard School of Music under Hung-Kuan Chen. Randy won the fourth prize at the third Thailand International Piano Competition in 2013 and first prize at the International Chopin Competition in Singapore in 2010. Randy has been invited to and participated in many prestigious summer festivals, such as in Bergen (Holland), Salzburg and Texas.

Pianist-composer Janice Wijaya won the Gold award at the Asia International Piano Academy and Festival Piano Competition, as well as an Outstanding Performance award from NYU Summer Intensive for her intelligent and well-crafted interpretations.

In Jakarta she appeared with the Jakarta Concert Orchestra where she premiered her own The Beatles Concerto, consisting of themes derived from the most popular tunes of the Beatles. Janice’s major orchestral works include The Reverie. She also composes piano works, such as her Fugue in F minor, in which she utilized Schoenberg’s serial techniques

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Her primary studies at the Manhattan School of Music are with Andre-Michel Schub, the 1981 VanCliburn winner. She also works with Eduardus Halim, a student of Vladimir Horowitz. Her piano quintet, coached by Daniel Avsholomov, has performed a wide-ranging repertoire including quintets by Faure, Brahms, Schubert and Shostakovich. Following her graduation, Janice said she would pursue her ambition to compose film scores.

Edith, Randy and Anthony, apart from the mentioned prizes they won, were also first prize winners of the Ananda Sukarlan Award in 2010, 2012 and 2014 respectively, while Janice won the third prize in 2012, but those ranks in the past proved to be irrelevant to their achievements now and in the future; it is how they develop that matters most.

The 22-year-old violinist Giovani Biga started learning to play his instrument in 2004 with local teachers such as Joel Suprapto, Amelia Tionanda, Prima Muchlisin and Fafan Isfandiar. He was active in the Twilite Youth Orchestra as the concert master before being selected as the representative of Indonesia in the Asian Youth Orchestra, which toured around Asia in 2013. In the same year, he was chosen as a soloist for the world premiere of Ananda Sukarlan’s Violin Concerto, accompanied by the Nusantara Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Edward Van Ness.

Prizes won included Best Instrumentalist at the Arnuero Chamber Music Competition in Spain, second prize in two different categories at the Auryn Kammermusik Wettbewerb 2016 in Germany and very recently second prize at the 2017 Stockholm Violin Competition.

Giovani is now a Bachelor of Music student at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold in Germany.

Bernadeta Astari, 29, studied classical singing at the Utrecht Conservatory in Holland where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree with a summa cum laude in 2010. Currently, she is continuing her Master’s studies with Henny Diemer. She won the first prize of National Prinses Christina Concours in The Hague in 2007 and received some grants, which opened up her Dutch musical career.

With the Resident Artist Programme of the Nationale Reisopera, Bernadeta sang operas of Mozart, Britten and Menotti.

She recently won the final of the Dutch Classical Talent Award (VKHD competition).

Since 2009 she formed a lied duo with Kanako Inoue and they performed together in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and some concerts in the Netherlands and Indonesia. They were chosen as the best young talent duo and received the Zilveren Vork Award 2009-2010 from Vrienden van de Harmonie Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.

Mariska Setiawan, 27, is an example of an Indonesian classical musician who was brought up in her own country and bloomed and grew here, although she regularly takes masterclasses with Stella Zhou, Renate Faltin and Ildiko Raimondi in Salzburg and Berlin after winning the third prize at the Ananda Sukarlan Vocal Competition in 2011. She performed in, among others, the World Culture Forum last year and sings in three languages — English, Spanish and Indonesian — on her most recent CD, Love & Variations, which has proved to be quite a hit.

She might be the living proof that in classical music, one can live and work in the country and have respect and opportunities and even do something to “make the garden grow.”

When I returned to Indonesia after living for a long time in Europe, Indonesia looked like a barren land for classical music. What opportunities would lie here? These musicians have learned that if opportunity doesn’t knock at your door, then just build your own door.

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