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Sacred Rhythm music festival returns for 20th anniversary

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, January 10, 2020  /  09:15 am
Sacred Rhythm music festival returns for 20th anniversary

Reborn: Sacred Bridge Foundation chairman Ginastera “Boo-Boo” Sianturi (standing) talks on the upcoming Sacred Rhythm festival to be held in Jakarta on Saturday. (JP/Josa Lukman)

Two decades after its first incarnation at the turn of the millennium, cultural music festival Sacred Rhythm is set to make a return this Saturday in Jakarta.

Scheduled to be held on Jan. 11 at the Nyi Ageng Serang auditorium in South Jakarta, Sacred Rhythm: Reborn Unison (SRRU) marks a new chapter in the music festival’s history, as well as its organizer the Sacred Bridge Foundation.

Several events have been held in the run-up to SRRU, with an invitation-only event in 2018 and the SRRU: Celebrate Life art exhibition at the National Museum in 2019.

Saturday’s festival will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original Sacred Rhythm festival, which was held at Pura Samuan Tiga and Penataran Sasih in Bali in 1999.

While the original UNESCO-sanctioned festival at that time featured more than 1,000 percussionists in the lineup, SRRU will be a more intimate event, taking the theme “Recognizing Rhythm” and the tagline “Bridging Art-Science-Conscience”.

The original focus on percussion will make a return, and so will performers from the original festival, including American percussionist and director of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) electronic percussion studios Amy Knoles.

Knoles invited with her fellow percussionist Joel Virgel-Vierset and Houman Pourmehdi, the former a musician-cum-actor and the latter a faculty member at The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts,

Indonesian performers include traditional and modern musicians, such as the Acehnese Canang 7 Atjeh Ensemble, Betawi’s gambang kromong troupe Kinang Putra and DJ Leno Rei.

Also in the lineup are participants of Rhythm Salad, the Sacred Bridge Foundation’s music workshop program. The workshop is being held from Jan. 6 to 10 at the Namarina Dance Academy studio, with the final result of the program to be showcased at SRRU.

Those looking to attend SRRU can do so by making a minimum donation of Rp 50,000 ($3.61), which will go on to fund future projects by the Sacred Bridge Foundation.

Sacred Bridge chairman Ginastera “Boo-Boo” Sianturi said the original festival was borne out of the turbulent times in the run-up to the end of the millennium, created to highlight culture as a solution where politics and trade have failed.

“Twenty years on, we still face wars and racism and all sorts of issues. Humans are still territorial beings with their own boxes, so it’s our rallying cry to the younger generation to break these barriers,” he said.

Ginastera said the initial concept was for SRRU to be held in Bali to pay tribute to the 1999 festival, but the Sacred Bridge Foundation had just undergone a regeneration of sorts, and the new board did not feel they could pull off a festival in Bali for reasons relating to resources and funding.

The foundation itself is based in Jakarta, and so is its network of volunteers, so it made sense to hold SRRU in Jakarta.

“The challenge is actually in highlighting the aspect of sacredness in a city you wouldn’t associate with it. The concept of the art-science-spirituality triangle has a similarity with the Balinese idea of spirituality,” he says.

The road to SRRU is a rocky one, with the existence of the Sacred Bridge Foundation itself in limbo following the passing of founder Serrano Sianturi, Ginastera’s father.

“When he passed away in early 2019, the foundation was nearly dissolved. However, I talked with several friends and volunteers on our way going forward and they were all very spirited in their optimism, so I was pretty pumped up as well,” he said.

Going forward, Ginastera raised hope that SRRU could become an annual festival, with plans already under way for a Balinese concert on New Year’s Eve to welcome 2021.

“It will also be a test for the younger generation, whether we can continue the legacy of our predecessors.” (ste)

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