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Tesla Manaf Puts on Impressive and Unique Performance at Nieuwe Kerk

On 29 December 2017, Indonesian artist Tesla Manaf performed in the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague. This evening, Manaf was accompanied by his backing band and also by Dutch-Indonesian guitarist Erwin van Ligten. The performances were to be heard in the Nieuwe Kerk from 20:15 until 22:15. 

Dozens of people showed up to witness the performances by the talented artists. Also present was the ambassador of the Indonesian embassy in The Hague, I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja. The ambassador really seemed to enjoy the music by the artists, and so did everyone else in the audience for that matter. The Nieuwe Kerk also is an incredible venue, with great acoustics. This only added to the enjoyment of the evening. 

Before the musicians started to perform, they were introduced and both Tesla Manaf and Erwin van Ligten were asked about their backgrounds, their music careers and their inspirations. This was interesting to listen to. It allowed the audience to know a little more about the performers. 

It turned out that both Manaf and van Ligten started playing music from a very young age; Manaf started to play the guitar at the age of nine, and van Ligten could be found playing the drums when he was only five years old. What the two musicians also have in common, is the fact that neither of their parents were really supportive of their dreams of pursuing a career in music. Fortunately, they both decided to pursue it regardless of that. 

The development of their respective music careers and their inspirations are different though. Tesla Manaf’s (1987) inspirations come from a wide variety of music styles; classic music, jazz music and also pop music. Amongst his inspirations are for example, Madonna and the Carpenters, he told the audience. Only thirty years old, Manaf also still has his whole career ahead of him. Van Ligten (1957) on the other hand, can already look back on a successful and long career in music. Van Ligten has played in several influential music groups and with diverse artists since the 1970’s.

After the introduction, the night started with a solo performance by Erwin van Ligten. He was to start off the evening by playing a few of his songs. The talented guitar player from Surabaya put on a truly remarkable performance. Van Ligten used multiple guitars during the performance which each had a sound of their own. They also enabled him to show that he truly is an incredibly skilled guitarist. The music was great to listen to and everyone in the audience seemed impressed and amused. 

After the performance by van Ligten, Tesla Manaf performed, accompanied by his backing band. This performance sounded so incredibly different from the previous one by van Ligten, however although wildly different, this was also a great performance. The talented musician from Jakarta was joined by his backing band, which consisted out of a clarinet player, a contrabass player, and a drummer. Each of the musicians had a fully-developed and mature sound on their respective instruments. They were quite skilled and the ensemble worked very well together. 

The music played by this ensemble was very interesting. Manaf’s music has a very distinctive sound; his musical voice is completely unique. The daring young musician definitely is not afraid to take risks or artistic chances. At first, Manaf was classically-trained in music. However, he tired of the rigidity of it and thus embarked on a career in jazz and improvised music in 2007. He launched himself into progressive jazz with resounding success. Manaf’s sources of inspiration come from various music styles but also from the subtleties of Balinese gamelan. 

In Manaf's compositions, the seemingly contradictory influences of contemporary classical music, the forward-leaning rhythms of modern jazz and the sounds of Manaf’s native Indonesia consistently create interesting tensions. His performance in the Nieuwe Kerk also sounded very interesting and unique. His songs were full of crazy rhythms and bizarre twists. While some parts of the performance sounded calm and serene, others chaotic and tumultuous. Still, the music was beautiful to listen to. 

At the end of the evening, Tesla Manaf and Erwin van Ligten performed together. As a result of this, the evening really ended on a high note. It was truly invigorating to hear the two artists perform together. Despite the fact that their music styles differ considerably, they made a good combination. It was a perfect end to an amazing night.


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