EU-Indonesia Orchestrates Cultural Diplomacy through 'Nusantero'



Mahinda Arkyasa

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  • 'Nusantero' Big Band, a collaborative project of 25 Indonesian and European musicians.

    'Nusantero' Big Band, a collaborative project of 25 Indonesian and European musicians.

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaEuropean Union (EU) ambassador to Indonesia, Vincent Piket, announced the EU's intention to improve and maintain the vitality of diplomatic relations with Indonesia through the introduction of the 'Nusantero' Big Band, a collaborative project of 25 Indonesian and European musicians. 

    "We feel very strongly that as part of our official relations, we also must do something that is people-to-people. In fact, we have done a fair amount of things, but we have never had what we are going to do now," said EU Ambassador to Indonesia Vincent Piket, in Erasmus Huis, South Jakarta, on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

    With 14 musicians coming from nine European Union countries and Switzerland, and the rest being Indonesian musicians, the Nusantero Big Band is aptly named to highlight the unity between Nusantara (the Indonesian archipelago) and Europe. Nusantero is set to perform in the Jakarta International BNI Java Jazz Festival, this coming Friday and Saturday, February 28 and 29, 2020.

    "I believe very much that music can unite us. It touches the heart and soul of people wherever they are. It is especially so in a cultural way that fuses the tradition that we have in Europe and traditions here. I think they are going to do a great job at the Java Jazz festival," Vincent stated.

    The Nusantero Big Band consists of Alexander (the Netherlands) and Indonesian vocalists Arif Dharma, Matthew Sayersz, Nesia Ardi, Yohanes Raka, Zaky Tifano and Nita Aartsen, who is also the musical director. The string section consists of Helga Sedli on violin (Hungary), and Mikele Montolli on double bass (Italy). The woodwind section consists of Eugen Bounty on clarinet and saxophone (Indonesia), Indonesian musicians Rega Dauna on harmonica and Andreas Arianto on accordion, as well as Kuba Skowronski on tenor sax (Poland), Radovan Tariska on alto sax (Slovakia) and Sven Ziebarth on both alto and tenor sax (Germany)

    Meanwhile, the brass section of the Nusantero Big Band consists of Danilo Moccia (Switzerland), Michal Tomaszczyk (Poland), and Pablo Martinez (Spain) on trombone, as well as Gerard Kleijn (Netherlands), Nils Janson (Sweden) and Piotr Damasiewicz (Poland) on trumpet. Furthermore, the percussion section consists of Gabriel Laufer (Belgium), Made Wardana on kendang (Indonesia), and Martin Andersen on drums (Denmark). Lastly, the band also features Brandon Julio (Indonesia) on guitar.

    In their cultural appreciation, the ensemble will perform musical re-arrangements of works from famous Indonesian and European composers, including Ismail Marzuki, Gesang, Charles Trenet, Christ Kayhatu, and Johann Sebastian Bach. The re-arrangements will be presented in the genre of jazz, with slight Javanese, Balinese, and Betawi undertones. 

    "The idea from me is that Europe also has a significant influence on Jazz, and from the Indonesian side, we highlight legendary composers, mostly from Java. It [the Indonesian music] was created after the second World War. So a lot of the harmony has a European taste," said Nusantero music director Nita Aartsen, prior to playing the Betawi folklore song of 'Jali- Jali' as a preview of Nusantero's musical performance.

    Nusantero will be performing their full set of 16 songs at Erasmus Huis on Wednesday, February 26, at 7.00 PM local time. Furthermore, they will also perform in the Java Jazz Festival at Hall D2 from 6.30 to 7.30 PM on Friday, February 28, as well as at Hall D1 from 5.00 to 6.00 PM, on Saturday, February 29.

    Although plans for a European tour are yet to be in the works, members of the Nusantero Big Band have expressed their excitement to perform this Indonesian- European collaboration. "It's an honor for me to be here, I am learning a lot from my Indonesian and European colleagues," said Nusantero drummer, Martin Andersen.