With the help of some of the nation’s veteran and rising classical musicians, Indonesian conductor Avip Priatna will celebrate his 50th birthday with a two-hour concert on Saturday. (JG Photo/Sylviana Hamdani)

Avip Celebrates ‘50 Years of Blessings’ With Music

JANUARY 21, 2015

Renowned Indonesian music director and conductor Avip Priatna has much to celebrate. He has lead the world’s top orchestras, released an album covering history’s most celebrated composers, and founded and leads the nation’s top classical music acts, the Jakarta Concert Orchestra and Batavia Madrigal Singers.

This weekend, Avip will commemorate yet another milestone in his life: his 50th birthday. And he plans to celebrate the special occasion by sharing with fans and family his love of classical music by staging a concert at his studio, The Resonanz, in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, on Saturday.

“It’s like inviting friends to my own house [for the concert],” said the winner of Best Conductor in the 34th International May Choir Competition of prof. Georgi Dimitrov at Varna, Bulgaria, in May 2012. 

“The concert will be warm and intimate, featuring my mentors and closest friends, who have been so meaningful to me throughout all these years.”

In line with the occasion, Saturday’s concert will be themed “50 Years of Blessings.”

“I feel that 50 years of my life are filled with blessings,” Avip said.

The conductor actually turned the big five-oh on Dec. 29, “but I think people are [usually] very busy in December,” the conductor said. 

“So, I thought January would be the best time to celebrate [my birthday].”

“And hopefully, the concert would signal a good year ahead of us,” Avip added with a smile.

Falling into music

Avip has been a fan of classical music for as long as he can remember, but he truly became infatuated with the genre as a student studying architecture at Parahyangan Catholic University (UnPar) in Bandung.

He joined the school’s choir as an extracurricular activity, but what started off as a mere hobby soon began absorbing more of his time and taking his attention away from his studies.

After completing his architectural degree, Avip chose to pursue his unquenchable passion for the classics by joining the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria, on a scholarship — despite the concerns voiced by his parents.

Under the guidance of some of the world’s best teachers in classical music, Avip flourished and after graduating from the prestigious university, headed back to where it all started, his alma mater, to train its choir.

Under his tenure, UnPar won a series of local and international choir competitions.

“We’ve all learned a lot from [Avip],” said Rainier Revireino, alumnus and former choir member of UnPar. 

“He didn’t only teach us how to sing beautifully, but also encouraged us and monitored our progress, even when he was no longer [with the university].”

Rainier followed in his mentor’s footsteps and become a conductor himself. He now trains Paramabira, the student choir of Bina Nusantara University in West Jakarta, which is set to open Saturday’s birthday celebration.

“What I’ve learned from [Avip], I now impart on my students,” said Rainier. “And Avip continues to be my mentor, friend and trusted confidante.”

In addition to Paramabira, the musical  event will also feature the award-winning choirs of Bandung’s Catholic Parahyangan University and Maranatha University.

Another one of Avip’s former students, Agustinus Bambang Jusana, is now in charge of the Maranatha University choir.

“Avip is an inspiration,” Agustinus said. “After finishing my studies at UnPar, I taught at several universities outside Java. And Avip’s success with UnPar’s choir was legendary. The universities I worked with all wanted to become just as successful.”

‘50 Years of Blessings’

The long list of talents set to perform on Saturday include Avip’s piano tutor Oerip Santoso, soprano Aning Katamsi and pianist Iswargia R. Sudarno.

“They are my sister-and brother-in-arms,” Avip said, with a smile.

“The three of us chose to have a career in classical music when it was still unpopular in Indonesia.”

To highlight the nation’s young talents in the genre, Avip invited some of the archipelago’s rising conductors to participating in a competition sponsored by The Resonanz music studio.

“It was probably the first conductors’ competition ever held in Indonesia,” he said. 

“While there are many talent competitions for singers, pianists and other classical instruments, I’ve never heard of a conductors competition before.”

Twenty young conductors below the age of 30 took part in the event on Jan. 10-11, and the three finalists will vie for the coveted top title, as well as a chance to share the same stage with the maestro himself on Saturday.

“Their musicality is simply astounding,” Avip said of the contenders.

“I also plan to present new music written by young Indonesian composers,” the conductor added.

The result of another competition that challenged Indonesia’s young musical talents to create a composition based on several traditional songs and a poem by Toeti Heraty Rooseno, Avip said his music studio has already received 27 submission since December.

The winning compositions will be presented at “50 Years of Blessings.”

The two-hour birthday concert will also feature 15 pieces of music composed by Frederic Chopin, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Henry Purcell among others.

The evening will then culminate into a premier performance of a musical score written by up-and-coming Indonesian composer Fero Aldiansya Stefanus, titled “Pinta Hamba” (“My Prayer”).

“The composition is based on a poem written by Farman Purnama, a talented local tenor,” Avip added. 

“Farman, who is currently studying music at Utrecht [the Netherlands], will come home to Jakarta specifically to sing a song for the concert.”

Saturday’s celebration of classical music and Avip’s long career is sponsored by Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, a nonprofit organization, which aims to explore and highlight Indonesian cultures and talents.

“We truly appreciate Avip’s journey in developing Indonesian choirs and orchestral music,” said Adi Pardianto, program associate of the Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation. 

“By participating and winning in numerous international competitions, he has raised Indonesia’s reputation in the international world of classical music.

“Our only wish is for Avip to continue what he’s doing. And hopefully, more young, talented Indonesian musicians will follow in his footsteps,” he added.