Fri, 26 Aug 1994

Jakarta to present 1st-class fiesta

JAKARTA (JP): Jakarta art, music, theater and dance lovers will be delighted by first class international entertainment during September and October when an array of highly acclaimed artists from over 10 countries swarm the city.

Artists from Australia, China, the Netherlands and Austria, will demonstrate their talents and skills at the 1994 Jakarta International Performing Arts Festival starting on Sept. 3 at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta.

Billed as this year's premier performing arts event, the festival follows the success of previous festivals held since l990. Gedung Kesenian, the organizer, is committed to presenting Jakarta audiences with first class international entertainment.

"In the past, many world class performers bypassed Indonesia. Now, with the development of the Jakarta International Festival, which is part of the international festival network, Indonesians are given the opportunity to see high quality performances from overseas," said Farida Feisol, the director of Gedung Kesenian.

She added that she was optimistic that this year's festival will repeat the previous successes.

The Jakarta Symphonic Orchestra will open the festival culminating with a variety of performances, including works by noted Indonesian dance troupe Gumarang Sakti.

Led by prominent local choreographer Gusmiati Suid, the dance group will present a creation called Kodrat, or destiny. Known as innovative, many of Suid's works are drawn from the tradition of Pencak Silat (traditional form of martial arts) making her works quick and dynamic.

In Kodrat, Suid portrays sexual discrimination against women in eastern society. Kodrat is divided into three compositions. The first part is Kodrat which depicts career women who are frequently obsessed by their career without considering their fate as women. The second part, called Bundo (mother), choreographed by Hartati, deals with the basic role of women as mothers. The third part, Kaba si Sabai, is derived from a Minangkabau (West Sumatra) legend Si Sabai Nan Aluih. The legend unveils a story of a courageous woman who succeeds in regaining the dignity of her family and her country, while her brothers are busy entertaining themselves. The legend tries to answer why women, in a matriarchal society like Minangkabau, are always regarded second class citizens.

Foreign participants

Local dance buffs eager to watch high quality contemporary pieces will also revel in the performances by the Netherlands based De Rotterdamse Dansgroup which involves choreographers and dancers from Europe and America.

At the festival they will display their original dance compositions, such as The Idea of Order choreographed by Ton Simon. The dance group is renowned for its dialectical approach to choreography. Its impressive reputation lies in its innovative and creative approach to music and dance.

Classical music buffs will be treated to one of Germany's leading orchestras, the Koelner Kammerorchester (Cologne Chamber Orchestra). Conducted by Helmut-Mueller-Bruehl, the orchestra has toured half the world. Their Jakarta appearance is part of a Southeast Asia tour. Focusing on Baroque and early classical music, the group will present concerts featuring Johann Christian Bach's (1735-1782) Overture in D Major La Clemenza di Scipione Allegro assai, Savero Mercadante's (1795-1791) Flute concerto in E minor and also Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's (1756-1791)'s Oboe concerto in C major K.314 and Symphony in A major K.201.

Another stunning music event will be the performance of a Dutch a capella vocal group called Oom Maw Maw. Through their remarkable music arrangements, this quartet of two women and two men, will demonstrate what can be done without the use of any instruments.

Their repertoire is a mixture of jazz, funk, Latin and pop music with songs from Herby Hancock and Patricio Wang to Elkie Brooks and even Michael Jackson.


However, Farida believes the highlight of the festival will be the Beijing Opera. Although it is sometimes eclipsed in popularity by more modern and less exotic forms of entertainment, its rare Jakarta performance will thrill theater lovers. The Beijing Opera rarely appears in front of opera aficionados in China.

"In the 1950s and l960s there were Beijing opera performances in three to six theaters every night. Today you have two or three operas a week," one Beijing opera singer said as quoted by Time magazine recently.

The opera usually deals with tales of lost empires, chivalry and courtly romance, situations far removed from those of contemporary China. It also uses such an archaic form of the language that even many well educated Chinese are unfamiliar with the stories.

"If you don't understand Chinese history, Beijing opera may bore you," claims a scholar of Chinese literature.

Despite its name, Beijing opera traces its origins to music dramas created in the Anhui and Hubei provinces. In l790 a troupe from Anhui visited Beijing to commemorate the 80th birthday of the Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong. By the middle of the 19th century, the opera's elaborate silk costumes, colorfully painted faces, stunning acrobatics and fanciful plots drew large appreciative audiences in Beijing.

More information on the festival's events, such as a performance by Indonesian jazz group, Java Jazz, and a piano recital by Australian musician Jeffry Saba, can be attained, along with tickets, at Gedung Kesenian on Jl. Gedung Kesenian, Central Jakarta. (raw)