Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra to Present Asian Premiere of Clarice Assad’s "Bonecos de Olinda" and Gabriela Ortiz’s "Antrópolis"


The Aula Simfonia Jakarta hosted an unforgettable evening of classical music on Saturday, featuring the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra under the baton of resident conductor Rebecca Tong. The program showcased a rich tapestry of compositions, each resonating with the audience in unique and profound ways.

The concert opened with the Asia premiere of Clarice Assad's "Bonecos de Olinda" (2019). This vibrant piece drew inspiration from the traditional giant puppets of Olinda’s carnival, capturing the frenetic energy and rhythmic vitality of Brazilian street parades. Assad's composition brought to life the whimsical and colorful essence of the festival, immersing the audience in a trance-like celebration of sound.

Following the vivacious opening, the orchestra transitioned to the elegant and intricate “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43” by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Pianist Stephanie Onggowinoto, renowned for her “crystal-clear, luminous sound,” delivered a masterful performance. Her interpretation navigated through the 24 variations with precision and emotional depth, especially highlighting the famous 18th variation's "ultimate love episode." Onggowinoto’s dialogue with the orchestra brought out the intricate layers of Rachmaninoff’s last work for piano and orchestra, leaving the audience in awe of her technical prowess and expressive playing.

The first half concluded with Gabriela Ortiz’s "Antrópolis" (2019), another Asia premiere. Ortiz’s piece, inspired by the lively and storied dance halls and nightclubs of Mexico City, painted an auditory picture of the city's nocturnal vibrancy. The music’s dynamic rhythms and nostalgic melodies transported listeners to a world of dance and celebration, reflecting the cultural tapestry of urban Mexico.

After a brief intermission, the concert resumed with Sir Edward Elgar’s “Variations on an Original Theme ‘Enigma’, Op. 36.” Each variation, a musical portrayal of Elgar’s friends, was delivered with nuanced sensitivity by the orchestra. Highlights included the serene and emotive “Nimrod” variation, which evoked a deep sense of introspection and reverence, and the vigorous "Troyte," depicting the boisterous spirit of Elgar’s friend Arthur Troyte Griffith. Rebecca Tong’s direction brought out the intricate character of each variation, culminating in a triumphant and cohesive finale that resonated with the audience.

Rebecca Tong's expertise and artistic vision shone throughout the performance. Her nuanced interpretations and dynamic leadership ensured that each piece was executed with precision and passion, engaging the audience from start to finish. The Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra, with its ensemble of talented musicians, delivered a performance that celebrated both classical traditions and contemporary influences.

This concert was a testament to the power of music to transcend boundaries and connect diverse cultural expressions. It highlighted the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra's commitment to presenting both beloved classics and modern masterpieces, enriching the cultural landscape of Jakarta and beyond.

For more information on upcoming performances, visit the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra’s official website.

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