Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Musique Surya makes debut in Jakarta today

By Y. Bintang Prakarsa

JAKARTA (JP): A new chamber ensemble is making its debut this Thursday, April 27, at 7.30 p.m. at Erasmus Huis. Musique Surya is presently made up of Ade Simanjuntak-Simbolon (piano), Lynn Davidoff (flute), and Sharon Eng (viola).

"Musique Surya was founded because we wanted to play chamber music together," said Davidoff, spokesperson for the group. "We chose the name because we wanted a word that was used in Indonesia...and also we liked its meaning." (Surya means sun.) The ensemble is in fact a trio, so why not call it a trio?

"Because we hope to invite other people to play with us in the future."

The program will highlight a rarely heard repertoire with a lot of diversity. The first piece is a Baroque trio sonata, in which two high instruments are accompanied by a bass part, while another instrument (usually keyboard - in this case piano) adds chords to fill in the gaps.

The composer is Jean-Baptiste Loeillet of Ghent (now in Belgium) who lived around the turn of the eighteenth century.

There is also the Andante and Scherzo for flute and piano by Louis Ganne, a pupil of Cisar Franck, and the Five Pieces for Flute, Violin and Piano by Cisar Cui (1835-1918). Ganne composed the Andante and Scherzo for the 1901 competitive examination held by the Paris Conservatoire. This work has two movements, and each is aimed at testing the technical ability of musicians.

Cui's was, by profession, a professor of fortification who retired as a Lieutenant General in the Russian army.

Cui is at his best in miniature pieces, and the Five Pieces for Flute, Violin and Piano is a good representation of the composer's style. "Each of the five pieces," said Davidoff, "is a miniature of lightness, grace and charm and exemplifies Cui's lyrical talent."

More fascinating, perhaps, are Charles Koechlin, Ernest Bloch, and Bohuslav Martinu in their use of various styles, especially the piquant musical language of the twentieth century.

The French composer Koechlin, for instance, drew inspiration from medieval polyphony through twentieth century bitonality and atonality.

He composed many works for unusual groupings of instruments. The concert will feature his Epitaphe de Jean Harlow, originally for flute, alto saxophone and piano.

According to Davidoff, "It...contains some breathtakingly beautiful harmonies and melodic lines in a definitely 20th century French style."

Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) was born in Switzerland and later moved to the United States. He was of Jewish descent, and his music is much influenced by Jewish liturgy and religious themes. He has contributed much to the viola repertoire, and his Meditation and Processional exploits the viola's deep and mellow tones, evoking the saturnine image of a funeral procession.

The Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) studied music in Prague and Paris, and his music reflects strong Czech (folk melodies) and French (concern for clarity and form) influences, along with baroque and classical styles. The work for the concert is an authorized version with viola of a Trio that was originally composed for flute, cello and piano. Davidoff said, "Though lyrical, the Trio is full of rhythmic energy and imagination," as well as "a wide -- sometimes dissonant -- harmonic range."

Now, if these interesting works are unknown to most, the musicians are by no means neophytes when it comes to performing and teaching.

Ade Simanjuntak-Simbolon is an accompanist and chamber musician who studied in Indonesia, Russia, and the USA (Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and the University of Wisconsin). Besides teaching at the YPM Music School, she has made many appearances in concerts both in Indonesia and abroad.

The Canadian-American Lynn Davidoff holds a Master's Degree in Flute Performance from Michigan State University. Davidoff, who was twice a winner of the National Competitive Festival of Music in Canada, led a busy life as a teacher, performer, and concert producer in Canada and USA before becoming a teacher of instrumental music at the Jakarta International School.

A graduate of the Juilliard School (B.M., M.M., performance), American violist Sharon Eng has performed both at home and abroad, including with Herbert von Karajan's International Youth Orchestra in Berlin and at the New York City Opera. Having an interest in the twentieth century, she has premiered solo works at various occasions in the USA. She is now director of the H.S. String Orchestra Program at Jakarta International School.