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US 'keroncong' group to perform in Surakarta

Ganug Nugroho Adi

The Jakarta Post

Surakarta, Central Java  /  Wed, July 4, 2018  /  05:05 am
US 'keroncong' group to perform in Surakarta

Hannah Standiford, vocalist of Rumput band, is slated to perform at Panggung Gesang in Surakarta, Central Java, on July 18. (JP/File)

Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, in the United States, Rumput band is slated to stage a keroncong (Javanese folk music) concert at Panggung Gesang in Surakarta, Central Java, on July 18.

Rumput comprises nine musicians who describe the band’s music style as keroncong mixed with old-time Appalachian folk. 

Vocalist Hannah Standiford studied at the Surakarta Arts Institute (ISI Surakarta), where she immersed herself in Javanese arts, including keroncong music.

The stage where Rumput is set to perform, Panggung Gesang, is dedicated to keroncong musicians, whose genre has survived contemporary tunes and the surge of foreign music entering the country.

It is named after Gesang Martohartono, the maestro who composed “Bengawan Solo”, an iconic song about Solo River in Surakarta.

Panggung Gesang coordinator Sadrah told The Jakarta Post that aside from performing keroncong music, Rumput will also play a number of American folksongs.

The concert, Akar (root): Keroncong Meets America, will present an English fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, as well as a crankie, an old storytelling art form.

A crankie performance involves long, illustrated scrolls wound onto two spools. According to, “the spools of a crankie are loaded into a box which has a viewing screen. The scroll is hand-cranked while the story is told. It can be accompanied by a narrative, song or tune.”

“Following its performance in Surakarta, Rumput will take the stage in Bandung [West Java], Surabaya [East Java], Jakarta, the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC, and Cornell University [New York],” Sadrah said.

The upcoming event at Panggung Gesang will also include an interactive discussion with the audience about the works and experience of Rumput during their journey as keroncong artists.

Read also: Saving cultural heritage through wayang keroncong

“We want to build appreciation toward art and tradition from America and Indonesia. Rumput will stage a number of Indonesian keroncong music, such as Yen Ing Tawang Ono Lintang [If There Are Stars in the Sky] and Di Bawah Sinar Bulan Purnama [Under the Full Moon],” Hannah said.

Rumput band vocalist Hannah Standiford (right) and Surakarta-based Rumput band vocalist Hannah Standiford (right) and Surakarta-based "keroncong" artist Danis Sugiyanto speak to the media during a press conference at Omah Sinten hotel and restaurant on Tuesday. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

The vocalist was previously awarded a Fulbright research grant for the project Keroncong: Preserving a Living Tradition.

 She also studied the Indonesian music genre stambul fajar in Belitung, Bangka Belitung Islands.

Hannah said she was eager to learn more about traditional music among Indonesian youths and hoped to further promote keroncong to the West. (mut)

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