Sunday, August 14, 2011

Solo keroncong Festival 2011

Thousandsof spectators crowded the Solo Keroncong Festival 2011 in Ngarsopuro, right infront of the Triwindu Market in Solo.
They were mesmerized as Endah Laras, a traditional singer from Solo, presented“Gemes” (Carried away), a song in the langgam or Javanese-style of keroncong,which is long known as Portuguese-tinged Indonesian music.

The song, written by Anjar Any and popularized in the 1970s by keroncongmaestro Waldjinah, was jovially and temptingly sung by Endah that evening,testimony to the fact that keroncong is not always slow and soothing music.

Endah was not alone in adding color to keroncong during the festival. Earlier,the Zakaria Keroncong Orchestra offered a humorous piece entitled “Pakne Thole”(Boy’s dad). Presented in a duet, the old Javanese song triggered roars oflaughter after being modified into an intensely expressive and almosttheatrical composition for the stage, leading to calls to repeat theperformance.

On the first day of the festival, Congrock from Semarang appeared with a blendof keroncong and rock music to suit the taste of the youth in the audience,making the show more attractive and less monotonous, while stirring the crowdsto dancing and shouting. The notion that keroncong is for retirees was alsodispelled as “Rumah Kita” (Our house), a song from the rock band Godbless,spurred people to sing along in the keroncong style and wave like rock musicfans do at concerts.

“Through such music, we’re trying to offer and introduce keroncong to theyounger generation. Keroncong will survive unless it’s monotonous, so thereshould be [new] creations. We can’t force today’s youth to enjoy keroncong inthe style of olden times,” said Marco Manardi, Congrock’s leader.

For two nights the public welcomed the Solo Keroncong Festival withoverwhelming enthusiasm. Many visitors were even prepared to sit in the road towatch the performances on two big screens set up on both sides of the stage.The throngs of onlookers in Ngarsopuro seemed untroubled by the suicide bombingthat had recently shocked the city.

Opened by former Transportation and Manpower Minister Erman Suparman, thesecond Solo Keroncong Festival had 18 keroncong groups from various regions asparticipants, including five foreign troupes from Italy, Hong Kong, Hungary,Malaysia and Singapore.

The event started with teenage keroncong musicians from the Putra Mawar TimurSolo Orchestra. Mostly junior high school students, they elegantly presented aninstrumental medley that displayed their musical skills. The famous keronconghits “Kota Solo” (Solo city), “Bengawan Solo” (Solo River) and “Tanah Air”(Motherland) marked the beginning of the international festival.

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