Ananda Sukarlan’s Chamber Symphony Orchestra No. 2: A Tribute to Ainun Habibie

Having bought the cheaper regular ticket and got stuck in traffic, my mind was filled with worry that I might not get a good seat where I could get a clear view of the stage, since I initially thought it would be a first-come-first-serve basis. But as I entered Goethe Haus, about 15 to 20 minutes before 7 PM, I soon realised that that was not how it works there. I claimed my ticket, and then I found out that the door to the recital would only be opened shortly before the performance began. I suppose that way we could all be civil and waited patiently outside. Of course, that would be the case if you put aside the people swarming in front of the entrance as soon as the door was opened. Long story made short, I did get a decent view from my seat, although it could also be attributed to the capacity limit of the hall itself. I even got one empty seat on each side of me. I felt like I could have as much personal space I needed there.

The first thing that came to my mind was the movie Habibie & Ainun which is a biographical movie depicting our second president life-love story as he strove to reach his dream to contribute to his country with what he had learned abroad and later on became Indonesia’s third president, yet mostly the focus of the movie is his deep connection and relationship with his late wife, Ainun. The impression became stronger as his son came up to the stage to gave a short preamble of the event itself: That it was a tribute to his mother, something which his father’s foundation, Yayasan Habibie & Ainun had started to do for some time now. The love story between his parents is already quite well-known for its romance, initially through his auto-biography which was later adapted into the movie I had thus mentioned, and at that time, what popped up in my mind was, “Wow. I wanna be loved like that,” thinking how deep was the devotion of the family towards this one woman.


Shortly afterwards, Ananda Sukarlan gave us a brief introduction and explanation on his concept on this tribute to Ainun Habibie, in which, he explained about the three movements for that night’s performance. The first one would be a sound of chaos as he illustrated it as the sound a child tried to make as they first learned to play the music. Simple melodies, practiced and intertwined, forming a harmonious, albeit still chaotic, sound resembling (and deriving, indeed, from) the traditional folksong from Makassar, Anging Mamiri. He did warn that it would be very loud–which, it really did–yet I couldn’t bring myself to completely cover my ears for fear of missing any part of the movement and its grandeur.

The second part, which is my favorite, was a tribute to love (I had already forgotten what he called this one part, only that it was utterly beautiful and moving), where, as the movement went along, each instrument would then formed a duet with another one, switching from two to another two, closing with a beautiful harmony from a short combination of all. It was, again, very, very beautiful, soothing, and moving, that I feared were I left to myself, I would definitely shed a tear just like the time I heard Joe Hisaishi’s Kimi Ga Iru Kara playing in one of his concerts in Budokan (from my iPad, though). It was, of course, completely an early Christmas/birthday/whatever-you-name-it treat for me when, after the end of the third movement, Sukarlan came back and told us they would play the second part one more time. I took out my camera right away. (Someone somehow very quickly posted it on YouTube already so here’s a glimpse of it.)

Then the third part, he said, was created to depict Habibie’s vision for his country–one that would one day be much more, and very advanced in technology, instead of the one still lacking behind its neighbours. Although a president, Habibie himself is initially an engineer, and more known as one, and during his short-term presidency, he did managed to fulfil the dream of having constructed a plane. Although sadly the project discontinued, nor did it receive as much appreciation as it should have deserved, it was a success, and that was one of the dreams of a-high-tech-Indonesian dream coming true. So Sukarlan made this third part as an embodiment of this effort, one that he warned would be really fast-paced. I have to admit, though, that although the first and the last part still could not replace the second part’s place in my heart, part of the enjoyment for the other two was actually watching each of the musician expressed themselves as they incorporated themselves with the instrument they played. So serious, and yet, very lively, and so dedicated. Some of them, I even imagined might have played it just like breathing just like me holding back my breath as I became too awestruck by their playing and finally sighed when there was a stop between one not and another, or as the pace slowed down and soften and then I took another long, deep, happy sigh. Of course I cannot speak for the musicians, but oh, maybe, just, maybe, right?

It was, after all, a chamber orchestra of no more than than 10 people playing–I’m afraid that I might inaccurately name or describe each instrument, though, so instead I would just attach along a picture and a video–yet the music produced was… overwhelmingly grand, and I don’t think the word “grand” is the word I need in order to do justice to the whole performance. I am at loss for words. I would not consider myself as someone knowledgeable in music, but I do enjoy very much the soft, repetitive, beautiful sound serving as the trivial background accompanying the solo–so much that in every musical performance I watched (Hisaishi’s concert in Budokan, The Lion King on Broadway, the musical play and movie of Les Misérables), I always intentionally looking for those “trivial” sounds. I would then imagine each of those sound as one of the many, but each one a unique, one-of-a-kind, as if each is equipped with a certain character, and then united and combined, forming a beautiful harmony as an important background for the solo. Trivial, but important, that they may be played unnoticed, yet when you take out those elements, the solo performance would be… Boring. In this case, in all three parts, I think it is safe to say that my favorite sounds in all three movements were the wind instruments. I fucking love the sounds they produced.

I tried to get the names of each musician online since I think they played wonderfully and deserve credits, but alas, I could find none. Nor would I trust my memory, since I was focusing more on the music instead of the names.
I tried to get the names of each musician online since I think they played wonderfully and deserve credits, but alas, I could find none, except for Anthony Hartono, the pianist, and Giovani Biga, the concert master (the violinist standing on the far left). Nor would I trust my memory, since I was focusing more on the music instead of the names.

P. S. I would admit that my knowledge describing any musical terms necessary is inadequate, hence, should I used any incorrect term to describe any movement, or expression and the likes, do forgive me.

P. S. S. This video below shows a glimpse of the similar show of the same tribute held last year, consisting of some of the same musicians playing yesterday: