The Gen Alpha of Indonesian Classical Music , by Ananda Sukarlan

INDONESIAKININEWS.COM -  They say that the Gen Alpha (born around or after 2010) thrives  on multitasking, and often doesn’t focus on a sing...

They say that the Gen Alpha (born around or after 2010) thrives  on multitasking, and often doesn’t focus on a single task for an  extended period. 

Whether it's true or not, the fact is that "long,  boring and stale" classical music, is having a comeback with Gen Z and  Gen Alpha. 

Perhaps not in actively playing it, but according to recent  studies, 74% of European residents aged under 25 were likely to be tuning into it  this year, either through spotify, youtube or even the (classical  music) radio in their cars, compared with a mere 46% of people aged 55  or  more (who, according to popular beliefs, are the ones who "adores  classical music"). 

What is meant by "classical" is in fact "written  music", not "dead composers' music", so John Williams, Magnus Lindberg  or me are included here.

As  an active composer and musician, I also sensed -- although still not  scientifically approved -- this interest in Indonesia, and not only in  big cities such as Jakarta or Surabaya. 

Recently I attended the  Payakumbuh Poetry Festival in West Sumatra, and I was surprised how many  young people came to my performance and talkshow, having known and  listened to my music and classical music in general. And the population  of Payakumbuh is only about 140.000!

For sure social media has played a huge part in this.  Being a Gen X, I do have some social media accounts (not TikTok though) and  I feel that I haven't really exploited it to promote my music to the  fullest. 

Fortunately many fans or performers of my music put it in their own  accounts, which sometimes have (much) more followers than mine.

Last year, Indonesia held the G20  presidency, and I was instructed by the Ministry of Culture to set up  and establish the G20 Orchestra, made of musicians from those 20  countries. 

I held an audition for musicians aged under 30 in Indonesia,  and I was surprised not only with the quantity of the participants (more  than 90) but also the areas within Indonesia who showed interest as  well as the age of the participants: more than 70% were under 22. 

From  the "remote" areas we had viola player Sendi Orysal (now in his mid-20s)  from Padangpanjang, West Sumatra. This amazing player has not studied  outside his faculty (ISI or Institut Seni Indonesia in that town) let  alone going abroad. 

Yet his interest (and hard work, obviously) is  enormous, going beyond what he was taught in the faculty.

But back to the Gen Alpha, we had Veeshan Nathaniel Tandino,  who, judging from his musical techniques and artistry was accepted but  I, as the artistic director, decided that he should not yet be part of  this orchestra only due to his lack of experience playing in an  orchestra. 

Born in 2011 in Medan (North Sumatra), he started his violin  studies through Suzuki method, and improved amazingly fast.

Now he is  studying at the Sumatra Conservatoire with Maulida Nur Isnaini, and  apparently his dream is to become a medical doctor!

In piano, we have Osten Cristo Harianto (13) who started learning piano when he was 6 in his birth- and  hometown, Surabaya. In 2020 Osten won 5th prize at Putra International  Piano Competition, Malaysia. 

That was after a First Prize winning at the  2019 Osaka International Music Competition. He also won prizes in the  World Piano Teacher's Association (WPTA) competition, both in Indonesia  and in Singapore. 

This year Osten was the 1st prize winner of the Junior  Category at the Ananda Sukarlan Award Competition, which is for all  instruments.

We also have the 12-year-young cellist, Chloe Lukito.  Like Veeshan, she started her cello studies using the Suzuki method,  and now she is playing the classical repertoire under the tutelage of  Bryant Gozali.

In 2018 she was 1st winner at North International Music  Competition (Sweden), followed by also 1st winner at Raffles  International Music Festival in 2019 (Singapore), Gold Award at Paris  Music Competition for Cello in 2020, 3rd prize at Clara Schumann  International Competition (USA) and the last one was in 2023 2nd prize  at Ananda Sukarlan Award (Jakarta).

With  vocalists, things get a bit more complicated. Their instrument  is their own body, and not only their vocal chord but also their whole  mouth, face, lungs and even stomach. 

The additional thing they have to  master is the languages, poetry and all the metaphors to understand the  music. 

Intellectuality and even musicianship should be matured, in  addition to musical techniques. And this is what the soprano Shelomita  Gasya Amory possesses. 

Born in 2009, and still living in the small but  exquisite town of Salatiga in Central Java, Shelomita is educated  through homeschooling and started her vocal training under Eriyani Tenga  Lunga. 

Now, in a more sophisticated education, she is studying under  the mezzosoprano Heny Janawati. Shelo, together with Osten, are two of  the youngest winners of Ananda Sukarlan Award throughout its history,  and both won it this year (2023). 

But before that, Shelo has had other  achievements, among others receiving the Platinum at Festival  Indonesiana in Surabaya, First Winner at Festival Swara Saraswati ISI  Jogjakarta and First winner at St. Louis Competition Talent. Abroad, she  won the First Prize at the World Art Games 2020 in Spain.

Of  course those four musicians are still very young, and perhaps they  would pursue another field in their future. 

But they set a tone of how  classical music is perceived differently, and a better hope that it can  be part of the great cultural asset we have in our country.

The writer is a composer & pianist


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IndonesiaKiniNews.com: The Gen Alpha of Indonesian Classical Music , by Ananda Sukarlan
The Gen Alpha of Indonesian Classical Music , by Ananda Sukarlan
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