29 Oktober 2008

[ac-i] Ananda Sukarlan in The Weekender, Jakarta Post

This article was published at the Jakarta Post Weekender , 24 October


'I write my best music when I feel horribly lonely'

Pianist Ananda Sukarlan is one of Indonesia's chosen sons, bringing his
musical talent to an international audience. Dutch and U.S. educated, he
is now based in Spain, where he lives with his wife, Raquel, and young
daughter. The winner of numerous accolades for his music, he achieved
several milestones this year. On a personal level, he turned 40: "It feels
great, I don't feel old (am I supposed to?)" he says. On a professional
level he composed a hymn for the Olympics that was performed throughout
Asia, wrote his first cantata, Ars Amatoria, and his first opera, Mengapa
Kau Culik Anak Kami (Why did you kidnap our child?). He is a thoughtful,
independent thinker and speaks his mind – the qualities that have helped
him succeed in the competitive world of music.

Your first memory?
Afternoon walks with my mom in the hospital garden behind my house, always
wearing white (and tiny!) shoes.

And first musical memory?
Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

If you hadn't gone into music, what would you like to have been?
A poet. I just love poetry, and literature in general (perhaps more than
music, since I am always accompanied by a good book) and I'm so envious of
those great poets in how they find and combine all those beautiful words.
Writing poems should be, I think, easier than writing music, since their
materials are words which we use daily ... but why is it so difficult for

Your best trait?
I'm a hard worker, and when it comes to music, nobody has ever complained
about my professionalism. It may sound arrogant, but for my artistic
projects I only want to work with people who are also 200 percent
dedicated to their work.

And worst?
If I have to finish (or even start) a piece of music and get stuck, I get
sooooo moody. Try not to catch me during those periods!

Happiest moment of your life?
The birth of my daughter ... and the many days afterward.

And saddest?
When a friend or colleague stabs me in the back out of envy (which has
happened more than once; well, this is the ugly business of beautiful

Who or what has been your most important teacher?
Number one: Life. Number two: Naum Grubert, my professor at the
conservatory at The Hague. Number two and a half are all my other previous
teachers in Jakarta: Myra Suryadi, Soetarno Soetikno, Laura Susanti, Rudy

What is the craziest thing you've done?
I took a free train ride from Amsterdam to Bordeaux to take part in a
piano competition during my student days. I went and stayed in the toilet
every time I saw the officer. I had money to buy a ticket for the way
back, by the way, because I won first prize.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have this strange hormone in me which provokes the feeling of extreme
loneliness (even if I am in a crowd). It's been working inside me since I
was a teenager. And that loneliness cannot be cured by just being with
someone. When it happens, it usually indicates that I should write music.
My best music is written when I am feeling horribly lonely. I have never
consulted a psychologist about this strange phenomenon.

The piece of music you wish you had written?
Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, Igor Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms,
Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto.

Your favorite, hands-down winning culinary dish?
Gudeg Jogja in a particular warung near Gadjah Mada University in Yogya,
Valencian Paella, Kobe Wagyu Beef-Steak (accompanied by a Dom Perignon).

The worst stereotype of the classical musician?
Not only of classical musicians, but of all artists, is being a
"celebrity" and using art for fame and fortune. The problem is that the
Indonesian public still confuses "artists" with "celebrities". They are
totally different! Art has nothing to do with being a celebrity, although
celebrities are, in some cases, artists. You don't really believe Paris
Hilton or Lindsay Lohan are artists, right? One doesn't have to be
handsome to make great music, paintings or poetry.

Who inspires you?
In life, Barack Obama, Plato, Mahatma Gandhi, Pramoedya Ananta Toer. In
music, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Beethoven.

You seem such a calm presence. What makes you angry?
Every time injustice is committed against anyone. Which happens to be part
of everyday life.

If you could solve one thing in the world today, what would it be?
Eliminate capitalism from this planet. Capitalism has been, and still is,
the main catalyst of injustice, massive hunger and poverty in many parts
of the world, and the fast-spiraling degradation of the arts since art is
a reflection of the society where it belongs.

If you could go back in time, what era would it be and why?
Ancient Greece. I'd love having a symposium with Socrates or Plato (apart
from the fact there was no air pollution in those days)!

Dream dinner guests, living or dead?
The old Greek philosophers above, or Andy Warhol. They must have been
really cool and crazy people.

Any regrets?
Falling in love with one who I should not have fallen in love with in the

Life motto?
"What you think about me is your problem, not my problem."

What's top of your list of Things to Do Before I Die?
Apply the knowledge and experience I acquired in Europe to help young
musicians in Indonesia. And travel to some places in Indonesia (not
necessarily the touristic areas). I've been to so many parts of the world,
but I only have been on three islands – Java, Bali and Sumatra – of my own
home country.

+ Bruce Emond
Illustration by Martin Dima


blog: http://artculture-indonesia.blogspot.com

Art & Culture Indonesia (ACI) peduli pada pengembangan seni budaya Nusantara warisan nenek moyang kita. Warna-warni dan keragaman seni budaya Indonesia adalah anugerah terindah yang kita miliki. Upaya menyeragamkan dan memonopoli kiprah seni budaya Indonesia dalam satu pemahaman harus kita tentang mati-matian hingga titik darah penghabisan.

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