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First Performance Svara Samsara in the Netherlands was Great Success

It can certainly be said that Svara Samsara’s first performance in the Netherlands was a great success. The band performed in the Deventer Schouwburg on 6 December 2017 and amazed the whole audience with their energetic performance and music. 

Despite the fact that they had only just arrived in the Netherlands – at 2:30 in the morning to be exact - Svara Samsara was still able to deliver a very energetic and enthusiastic performance in the Deventer Schouwburg on December 6. The percussion group also managed to attract a quite large audience (approximately 150 people); the theatre hall in which they performed was almost completely full. From 12:00 until 13:00, Onang Supratman, Gihon Siahaya, Ronald Lysandra, Yoga Soemantri and Nur Rahmad performed a few songs of their first album in the Schouwburg. 

Their music can be described as modern, but in a lot of ways, it is also traditional. Their songs very much seemed to be a mixture of both. The performance itself was very dynamic and energetic. The crowd seemed very pleased and everybody in the audience seemed to enjoy the music a lot. Moreover, it also was quite noticeable that the five musicians seemed to enjoy themselves a lot as well while they were performing. 

Even though they are all Indonesian, the five young men come from different cultural backgrounds. However, besides the musicians themselves, their instruments also come from a variety of different places; the percussion group uses for the most part a variety of traditional Indonesian instruments for their compositions. Some of the instruments come from West Sumatera, such as the Talempong, the Sarunai and Saluang (wind instruments from Minangkabau). Some come from Northern Sumatera, such as the Taganing (a drum chime from Batak). Other instruments come from Bali, such as the Kacil and the Rindik (bamboo instruments). And other instruments have a Javanese origin, such as the Rebana Hadrah (a tambourine from Banyuwangi, East Java) and the Kendang Sunda (Sundanese drums from West Java). These Indonesian instruments, that colour their world music, are also combined with modern and traditional percussion instruments from all over the world. 

In the middle of the performance, one of the band members addressed the audience, wanting to express his gratefulness by thanking the Schouwburg, the attaché of Education and Culture of the Indonesian embassy in the Hague, Europalia, and their manager for making it possible for them to come to the Netherlands and to the Deventer Schouwburg to perform their songs. He also mentioned that it was their first time in the Netherlands and despite the fact that they found it very cold, they were still very proud and thankful to be there. 

After the performance, their manager, Arie Jan Hendrik Onderdenwijngaard, addressed the audience and talked a little about the band, their music, and the instruments that they use. The audience listened attentively, since they were curious and wanted to know more about the musicians they had just listened to. He discussed the fact that the band members write all their compositions by themselves; some are written individually, whereas others are written together. At the end, he also discussed the name of the band and talked about its meaning; telling the audience that Svara Samsara stands for ‘’the sound of rebirth’’. A fitting name, Onderdenwijgaard said, since according to him, the five musicians brought the Rumah Kahanan (Cultural Centre) in Depok back to life with their music. 

The band was formed early 2015 and released its first album ‘’Svara Samsara’’ early 2016. With their music and under the motto of “Tradition but not traditional”, the band aspires to demonstrate that Indonesian percussion is anything but monotonous. The five young, talented musicians have adopted a cool, dynamic and contemporary approach to introducing Indonesian youth and other audiences to the richness of Indonesian rhythms and percussion. The enthusiasm they receive from their crowds in packed concert venues are proof that this commitment is paying off. This was certainly also the case for their performance at the Deventer Schouwburg

The five members of Svara Samsara were inspired by the work and life of their mentor, the legendary percussionist Innisisri (1951-2009), who devoted his career to promoting traditional music among young people, worried that they would turn exclusively to Western pop. Now, Svara Samsara has taken up the torch and continues in Innisisri’s footsteps by keeping Indonesian traditional music alive with their music. The band wants to continue and expand the work that Innisisri started; exploring different music traditions and incarnating traditional instruments in their modern music. The band dedicated their last song that day, Satu, to Innisisri. They received a standing ovation from the crowd at the end.




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