Representatives of the Jakarta City Philharmonic, Jakarta Arts Council and Taman Ismail Marzuki at the press conference for 'Brahmsiade' on Wednesday (03/04). (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)

Jakarta City Philharmonic Wants Classical Music to Be as Accessible as Pop and Jazz


APRIL 04, 2019

Jakarta. Jakarta City Philharmonic, or JCP, played its "Brahmsiade" concert at Taman Ismail Marzuki in Central Jakarta on Wednesday (03/04) to a strong crowd of around a thousand classical music fans. 

Brahmsiade was the JCP's 19th public performance and the first for the year.

"JCP concerts have always attracted strong crowds. We're doing well as a city orchestra. And we've had strong support from the government and JCP's own committees," orchestra conductor Budi Utomo Prabowo said.

Brahmsiade was an obvious reference to one of the greatest Romantic composers, Johannes Brahms. The JPC performed two of his pieces, the Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102 and Symphony No.2, and an Indonesian masterpiece, Tiga Citra Lautan Pertiwi by Matius Shaboone.

The concert also featured guest composer Kevin Atmadja and musicologist Aditya Setiadi. The orchestra comprised 60 musicians and two soloists on cello and violin.

Classical music, if not exactly trending, has been attracting stronger crowds in recent years in Jakarta. Each JCP concert, for example, has been attended by more and more people.

For Brahmsiade, over fifteen hundred people registered online for free tickets in three days, which meant the organizer had to turn some of them away since the theater can only acommodate 1200 people.

The public enthusiasm for classical music has been a pleasant surprise for Anto Hoed, the chairman of the music committee at the Jakarta Arts Council.

For years Anto has been trying to turn classical music into part of Jakarta's lifestyle by making it more casual and attractive to a wider public. 

"It's not easy, or cheap, to get access to good classical music concerts. We might have to go abroad and pay a lot of money for it. So what we're trying to do is make this part of our lifestyle," Anto said.

According to the senior musician, who used to play in the popular '90s pop band Potret, the local classical music scene is practically dead. He wants to revive it and make it into an alternative to pop and jazz.

"Jazz used to be just for the socialites, but now anyone can go to a cafe or bar to see a jazz band, hang out and have a drink. I want more people to be able to enjoy classical music in a relaxed way like that, too," Anto said.

To get more people through the turnstiles, the JCP concert was free. People could donate money which were pooled as bonuses for the musicians. JCP also handed out free programs which contained educational material about classical music.

JCP was established by the Jakarta Arts Council's music committee with financial support from the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf). The goal is to provide Jakarta with a professional orchestra that performs to a regular schedule, which according to the arts council should be standard fare in a modern metropolitan.

This year, JCP will also receive funding from the Jakarta city council, which will allow it to play four concerts at Teater Besar in Taman Ismail Marzuki.

The JCP's next concert will be on May 29.