The Jakarta Post
Universal language: The jury of Reina Sofie Award for Music Competition comprises of (from left) Spanish composer Juan Cruz-Guevara, Argentinian Fabian Panisello, Spanish composer Jesus Rueda, and African music ethnomusicologist Polo Vallejo. The jury, presided by Indonesian Ananda Sukarlan (wears batik), posed during the break on their first day of judging on Feb. 28. (Courtesy of Ananda Sukarlan/-)
The first leg of the Rapsodia Nusantara concert tour in Makassar, South Sulawesi, had just come to an end early last month when pianist and composer Ananda Sukarlan got a phone call with a request he could not decline.
He had to return to his second home in Spain to chair a jury panel for the Reina Sofia Award for Music Composition, the biggest classical music award in Europe named after the Queen Mother Sofia.
Ananda said he wouldn’t mind postponing a tour covering Surabaya in East Java, Bali and Jakarta to honor the Queen Mother Sofia, who had supported his music and Spanish classical music in general.
“Her Majesty came to my concerts before she abdicated. We had some discussions and she had great new ideas of how music could serve the disabled and also as a form of diplomacy and communication,” the maestro, who lives with Asperger syndrome, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday via text messages from Spain.
The warm relationship was not the only reason for his appointment as the presiding jury member.
Ananda is also known as a major influence in Spanish contemporary classical music, directing its path into a fusion of two musical cultures.
The 2001-2005 work of Jesus Rueda, the most prominent living Spanish composer for the piano, for instance, showed some Indonesian elements, such as his “Sonata No. 2 Ketjak”.
Another composition with a heavy Indonesian sound can be found in David del Puerto’s “Symphony No. 2 Nusantara & Violin Concerto” released in 2017.
The Reina Sofia Awards’ jury comprises Rueda, Ananda’s friend of 20 years, Spanish composer Juan Cruz-Guevara, Fabian Panisello from Argentina and world-renowned African music ethnomusicologist Polo Vallejo.
Announcing the judging results on Sunday, their choice went to Valencia-born Carlos Fontcuberta, 43, who will receive the Queen Sofia Prize of 35,000 euro (US$39,000).
According to Spanish news outlet La Vanguardia, the award was sponsored by the Ferrer-Salat Foundation, a company engaged in pharmaceuticals and philanthropy.
Queen Mother Sofia, whose husband King Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, will present the prize in the coming months after winners in other fields of art are chosen.
The award is held annually to develop talents in literature, visual arts, film and classical music.
During judging for the classical music category, which started on Feb. 28, Ananda said the jury had selected the best four works and unanimously found that Fontcuberta’s composition titled "Trencadis" has a strong identity and fresh music structure.
“I admired the originality of the music structure, which works well; [it’s] not just about being new and sounding different. The other members of the jury said, ‘Well, obviously, he could apply the trencadis structure brilliantly’. And I was so embarrassed because I didn’t know what that word meant at that time.”
Trencadis is a Catalan word, the language used in northeastern Spain, for broken tile mosaics — a visual art technique used by modernist architect Antoni Gaudi.
Ananda’s unfamiliarity with Catalan was not his only awkward moment as he also became the receiving end of jokes among jury members regarding a statement made by an Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) commissioner who claimed that women could get pregnant from swimming in the same pool as men.
“It had gone viral worldwide and would have been a heavy burden for me should I have picked the wrong winner,” he quipped.
The Rapsodia Nusantara tour will feature Ananda and 17-year-old Michael Anthony, a blind pianist with autism, who was discovered at the Ananda Sukarlan Award piano competition a few years ago. In Makassar, South Sulawesi they shared the stage with the province’s 17-year-old musical prodigy, Vivienne Thamrin.
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