Anger and anxiety over the widening gap between western and eastern Indonesia is growing and finding different outlets. Some people demonstrate in Jakarta and some blockade Freeport-McMoRan’s mine in Papua. And others sing and dance.
The Indonesia Choir (TIC) will tell the story of disparity in Indonesia through an interactive performance this Thursday. The performance, called “Dua Kisah Nusantara,” (roughly translating as “Two Stories of the Indonesian Archipelago”), will be held at Usmar Ismail Concert Hall in South Jakarta.
The three-hour concert will consist of more than 100 performers embracing and celebrating the country’s diversity through songs, dances and a traditional martial arts performance. Among the dancers will be 30 members of the National Police, most indigenous Papuans.
“I believe a choir offers an avenue to convey a message, and ours is crystal clear: We want to highlight the huge gap in development between the western and eastern parts of Indonesia,” said Jay Wijayanto, a co-founder of TIC and the music director and conductor of Thursday’s performance. “The choir and audience will engage in a discussion on issues such as injustice and multiculturalism through this interactive concert.”
And when Jay says interactive, he means interactive. He intends to stop conducting the concert and, from time to time, facilitate a conversation with the audience.
“We’ll talk and joke around regarding the issues, and if things get too serious, we’ll get back to singing and dancing again,” Jay said.
Besides the general public, some of the people charged with managing the problems in Papua and other eastern regions of the country are scheduled to attend the concert. They include the newly appointed chief of the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua [UP4B], Bambang Dharmono, and the minister of health, Endang Sedyaningsih.
“As we are all aware, these figures are currently in charge of solving problems in Papua. Papuans long for justice, but they also need good education and health programs,” Jay said.
Established in Jakarta in 2008, the Indonesia Choir has made it its mission to give voice to the country’s problems through its performances. What distinguishes TIC from other choirs, however, is that it typically performs traditional and national music from Indonesia, in addition to classical selections. “Dua Kisah Nusantara” is the choir’s fifth concert and follows four traditional performances: “Bunga Rampai tanah Airku,” “Sirih Pinang Melayu,” “Menjadi Indonesia” and “Nusa Silang Budaya.”
Members of the Indonesia Choir represent the country’s diversity, and hail from various cultural and professional backgrounds.
Choir member Yeremia Lalisang is part Manadonese and part Javanese, and an international relations lecturer at the University of Indonesia. Born in Jakarta, the energetic 22-year-old tenor joined the choir when it was established in 2008, and he is ecstatic about the upcoming performance.
“I am proud to be part of TIC because this group gives me a different perspective compared to my previous choir experiences,” Yeremia said. “The Indonesia Choir has a mission to preserve traditional Indonesian music, which is becoming quite rare these days.”
Another choir member, Stefanini Sumardiman, is a 41-year-old architect and soprano, and a mother of two. She has been involved in choir since her college days at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). “I used to sing classical song in the ITB’s choir. Today I still enjoy singing some classical, but mostly I sing traditional Indonesian songs,” she said.
On Thursday, the choir will entertain the public with a mix of 20 traditional, national and classical songs. Among the more classic Indonesian tunes scheduled to be performed are “Suluk Pambuka,” to be performed by well-known traditional artist Sujiwo Tejo, as well as “Lir Ilir” and “Yo Prakanca,” two well-known traditional Javanese songs.
“Marencong-rencong” from Sulawesi, “Lembe-Lembe” from Maluku and “Yamko Rambe Yamko” from Papua are among the songs that will represent the eastern regions of Indonesia at the performance.
And a medley of “Bolelebo,” “Bintu Biluhuta,” “Rasa Sayange” will be performed by the Indonesia Children’s Choir. For those who love classics, “Ave Maria” will also be part of the performance.
“We have been practicing for almost a year, and now it’s time to party,” Jay said. “We’ll see you there.”
Dua Kisah Nusantara: Interactive Concert
Thursday at 7 p.m.
Usmar Ismail Concert Hall
Jl. Rasuna Said Kav. C-22
Kuningan, South Jakarta
Tel: 0811 855344
Tickets from Rp 150,000