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Indonesia wins big at classical guitar competition in Japan

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, July 13, 2018  /  09:51 am
Indonesia wins big at classical guitar competition in Japan

Sweet finger play: Musical group the Nocturnal Guitar Quartet performs for the audience. The classical guitar group clinched the top awards at the 30th Japan International Ensemble Guitar Festival (JIEGF) in Tokyo. (Dominika Arumdati/File)

A Yogyakarta-based ensemble of classical guitarists has swept the top awards at the 30th Japan International Ensemble Guitar Festival (JIEGF) in Tokyo.

The ensemble of four groups, part of the Indonesia Classical Guitar Collective and made up of 10 Indonesian guitarists focusing on the nylon-stringed, finger-picking virtuosic style of classical guitar, won several distinctions at the competition, including the overall prize.

One of the groups, Duo Rocky won best duo award and achieved first place, while the Nocturnal Guitar Quartet took third place and won Best Performance of a Modern Guitar Piece.

The third group, Nabita Guitar Duo, won Best Student Award while the last group Duo Anantara did not win any awards but reportedly performed well throughout the competition.

Considering the young ages of the troupe, mostly under 25, with one member being 43 years old, it is a significant achievement not just for them but for Indonesia’s classical guitar movement, which is often overlooked.

Most of the musicians in the ensemble have taken part in previous national and regional events in Indonesia, such as the recent Valerio Guitar competition, where the champion group, Duo Rocky, won first place.

In Japan, Duo Rocky won the competition by performing two pieces by Brazilian composer Radames Gnatalli, namely the second and fourth movements of his Suite Retratos.

Before going to Japan for the competition, the ensemble staged several public performances, such as that held at Jakarta’s The Japan Foundation on April 27 and a show at the Sebelas Maret University hall in Surakarta, Central Java, on May 11, which also featured a collaboration with the Voca Erudita choir.

“I would say that it took us all about six months to prepare and rehearse for the JIEGF,” Duo Rocky member Yosua Julian Dwi Cahyo told The Jakarta Post.

“The Indonesia Classical Guitar Collective was basically formed for the competition as the four groups were to ultimately represent Indonesia, which was a great thing because the whole rehearsal process was very collaborative” he added.

Yosua, who is the 20-year-old half of Duo Rocky with his same-aged partner Ajie Batara, have only pursued the art of classical guitar since they were 16 years old. Both being influenced mainly by the distinctive style of Brazilian guitarists, they symbolize a bridge for potential Indonesian classical guitarists to make their names known.

“I think it is pretty important to highlight the overlooked classical guitar talent in Indonesia, because basically, we want to be on a par with all the other guitarists out there in the world,” Yosua said.

“Ajie and I, and the rest of the ensemble will continue to dominate international events whenever we can, while also exploring the world of guitars outside of Indonesia, so that we can bring the name of Indonesia into the perception of the guitar world,” he added.

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