BWW Review: INDONESIA PUSAKA Rejoices at Weil Recital Hall

Indonesia Pusaka is a largely Jakarta-based ensemble comprised of eight folk dancers and twelve classical pianists. In Javanese, pusaka means "heritage". For the first-ever performance of Indonesia Pusaka at Carnegie Hall, the riotous Indonesian composer Jaya Suprana sat himself onstage. Regally adorned in gold-enmeshed robes to mirror the priceless Carnegie Hall décor, the ingenious Indonesian voice of classical music composition turned bellies upside down with laughter.

The Indonesia community showed up with bright faces, speaking the brusque tones of the Bahasa language. Representation from the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia encouraged the entire audience to "fall in love with our culture," while expressing the essential message of the evening: unity in diversity.

As stagehands rolled out a Steinway & Sons grand, Suprana cracked up his adoring kith with all of the lovable informality familiar to Indonesian families. Truly, the most special gift of the Indonesia Pusaka Recital is to witness Suprana himself introduce successive compositions for solo piano that illustrate his life's work

Suprana, nearly in tears for his joy, introduced Viona Natalie Sanjaya, who, at thirteen years of age, has already performed at the Sidney Opera House. She played Unluk Ayla III & XI in the very rhythmic style of an Indonesian rumba.

The next compositions, Aforisma and Gargaritan, are dedications to Suprana's late teacher, who he respects as highly as his mother. Here, Suprana begins to give voice to Indonesian traditional music, where the pentatonic scales known to Asian folk music and the harmonies of the ancient world replace the 12-tone basis of Western music. At 16 years old, pianist Evelyn Zainal Abidi effused the five-tone scales with an emotional expressionism well beyond her years.

All of the performers are the students of Suprana. "They are my teachers," he told the crowd, noting how they revealed new characteristics and insights into the compositions. So there he sat, before the piano during the entire recital, listening to the interpretations deeply, with eyes firmly closed, genuflecting with all of the mental power of real genius.

Despite the impressive scope of talent and accomplishment from the young students of Suprana, no one inspired such gushing praise as Janice Carissa. She was comparable to Glenn Gould, he said, for her early mastery of Bach. She had already performed the Gould Variations and the Diabelli Variations on Beethoven. Suprana was confident that after completing her current PhD studies in music, she would become the first pianist to perform all three of the most important solo piano works, culminating with the Handel's Variations on Brahms.

From sentimental songs in the spirit of the lullaby so sweetly known throughout Asia, to virtuosic exercises in comparative classical composition, Suprana is wholly deserving of the "genius" honorific so bestowed on him by the national auspices of his country. Indonesia is his source of life and profoundest of muses, and if the seemingly endless encores and his comic soul were any indication, Suprana opened a fertile pathway for Indonesian music on the world stage forevermore.

Photo Credit: Foto: Dok. Okezone

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From This Author Matt Hanson

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