Masterfully blended classical and contemporary pieces, captivating the audience throughout the evening

On a memorable Saturday evening, the Aula Simfonia Jakarta hosted an exceptional concert featuring the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra, conducted by the esteemed Rebecca Tong. The event offered a rich and diverse program that captivated the audience with a blend of classical masterpieces and contemporary works.

The concert began with the Asian premiere of Clarice Assad's "Bonecos de Olinda" (2019). Inspired by the traditional giant puppets of Olinda's carnival, this piece vividly depicted the lively energy and rhythmic vitality of Brazilian street parades. Assad's vibrant composition transformed the concert hall into a festive celebration, immersing the audience in the spirited and colorful essence of the festival.

Following the exhilarating opening, the orchestra seamlessly transitioned to Sergei Rachmaninoff's “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43.” Pianist Stephanie Onggowinoto, renowned for her "crystal-clear, luminous sound," delivered a stunning performance. Her interpretation of the 24 variations showcased her technical skill and emotional depth, particularly highlighting the famous 18th variation, often described as the "ultimate love episode." Onggowinoto's expressive dialogue with the orchestra revealed the intricate layers of Rachmaninoff's last work for piano and orchestra, leaving the audience in awe.

The first half concluded with another Asian premiere, Gabriela Ortiz’s "Antrópolis" (2019). This piece, inspired by the vibrant dance halls and nightclubs of Mexico City, offered an auditory journey through the city's dynamic nightlife. Ortiz's music, with its lively rhythms and nostalgic melodies, transported listeners to the heart of urban Mexico, celebrating its rich cultural tapestry.

After a brief intermission, the concert resumed with Sir Edward Elgar’s “Variations on an Original Theme ‘Enigma’, Op. 36.” Each variation, a musical portrait of Elgar’s friends, was rendered with exquisite sensitivity by the orchestra. Highlights included the serene and introspective “Nimrod” variation, which evoked a profound sense of reverence, and the vigorous "Troyte," capturing the spirited character of Elgar’s friend Arthur Troyte Griffith. Under Rebecca Tong’s masterful direction, each variation's intricate nuances were brought to life, culminating in a triumphant and cohesive finale.

Rebecca Tong's artistic vision and leadership were evident throughout the performance. Her nuanced interpretations and dynamic conducting ensured that each piece was executed with precision and passion, keeping the audience engaged from start to finish. The Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra, composed of exceptionally talented musicians, delivered a performance that honored both classical traditions and contemporary innovation.

This concert underscored the transformative power of music, illustrating its ability to bridge cultural divides and connect diverse artistic expressions. It highlighted the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra's dedication to presenting a balanced repertoire of beloved classics and modern masterpieces, thereby enriching the cultural landscape of Jakarta and beyond.