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Jakarta Orchestra Reaches Out to New Fans of Classical Music  Tapol
 Apr 19, 2012 09:11 PDT 

From Joyo

The Jakarta Globe
April 19, 2012

Jakarta Orchestra Reaches Out to New Fans of Classical Music

After decades under the control of the government of the capital city,
the Jakarta Philharmonic Orchestra has this year taken the bold step
of going private. Under the leadership of director Estu Susanto, the
Jakarta institution has changed its name (from the Jakarta Symphony
Orchestra) and adopted a more professional approach .

Now it is seeking to find a whole new audience for classical music,
and along the way break down some tired, old stereotypes about the

The new-look orchestra will be on display this Saturday night at its
gala concert at the Aula Simfonia concert hall in Central Jakarta.
Titled “The Notes of Eternity,” the concert features maestro Yudianto
Hinupurwadi as conductor, sopranos Aning Katamsi and Binu D. Sukaman ,
and Iskandar Widjaja-Hadar as the solo violinist for the final

The orchestra is Jakarta’s oldest, dating from its establishment under
Governor Ali Sadikin (1966-1977) . Under Ali’s administration,
classical music flourished in the capital. It was again reinvigorated
under Governor Surjadi Soedirdja (1992-1997) , but since then has
faded into the background amid a proliferation of other genres and a
lack of funding.

As part of this year’s full privatization, Estu is trying to change
the image of the city institution. “We took over the ownership of the
orchestra because we had the vision to turn the Jakarta Philharmonic
Orchestra into one of Jakarta’s most notable assets,” Estu said.
“Through more professional management by the private sector, we hope
to provide better opportunities for classical musicians in Indonesia

Estu admitted that the existing market for classical music in
Indonesia was small, but said his ambition was to create demand by
introducing a new business and marketing model. “The problem is that
there are many misconceptions about classical music, and we want to
break them systematically,” he said.

One common perception is that classical music is reserved for the
upper-middle class and the elderly, which Estu says is a falsehood
that he wishes to dispel. “We hope that [Saturday’s] concert will be a
significant start, not just for JPO, but for the development of
classical music in Indonesia,” he said.

Estu argued that classical music possessed a certain appeal that many
Indonesians had failed to appreciate.

He said classical music could help listeners navigate the breadth of
their “emotional spectrum.”

“Our culture and entertainment tends to portray the extremes of
emotional expressions, such as anger, sadness and joyfulness. We see
really nice people and really terrible ones in the sinetron [soap
operas], but not so many characters that represent the middle ground,”
Estu said. “Classical music, in contrast, enables the audience to hear
and feel other subtle forms of emotion best conveyed through musical

He added that classical music was different to contemporary genres
such as pop and jazz because it relied solely on the ability of
acoustics to produce sounds without the assistance of modern sound
systems. “It is this purity of musical harmony that fosters some kind
of addiction,” Estu said.

Neneng Rahardja, the head of Philharmonic Society Foundation (YPS),
said the orchestra’s vision was to present classical music that could
reach all segments of society.

She said the JPO would explore other avenues to promote classical
music appreciation in the country, including reaching out to higher
education institutions and helping to establish local orchestra

Another strategy is to present a hip and trendy image. In this
weekend’s concert, JPO has invited Iskandar as a guest musician.

Iskandar, a 25-year-old German-born Indonesian violinist, will perform
Johannes Brahms’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Opus
77. With his Vienna-manufactured 1793 F. Geissenhof violin, Iskandar
has performed at acclaimed concert halls around the world, including
the Konzerthaus Berlin in Germany, the Tel Aviv Opera House in Israel
and the Opera di Brescia in Italy.

The young icon of classical music said he hoped that in playing the
final concerto at Saturday’s concert, he would be able to communicate
the dynamic emotions inherent in the music to the Jakarta audience.

When asked about how he would know if that message was successfully
conveyed, Iskandar said he had his own way of knowing if the music had
affected the audience.

“It’s not about how much applause I get, but the vibrations I can feel
in the audience. I will know if the message has been delivered by
asking myself whether I have been moved by the song,” he said.

“If I feel moved myself, then I will know that I have moved others as well.”

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