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Interact, Small Halls, Make Use of It!

Erasmus Huis Jakarta

Yes, we have relatively small concert halls in Jakarta. Most of them are classified as ‘off-Broadway’ which is filled between 100 to 499 seats. Let’s not be grumpy about it.

The most disappointing thing is that most of the musicians here doesn’t make use of the advantages of these small halls. Because eventhough they are relatively small, there certainly are advantages which are frequently forgotten by musicians performing in these venues.

One of the most important advatages is trully intimacy. With a very limited number of spectators, intimacy indeed is an atmopheric condition that can be attained. Much like speaking for a small group of people, adressing music to a limited number of audience should be much relaxed compared to 1000 worth of audience.

We do confirm that music should also be intimate and communicative, or else the composer meant not to be so. The sound and notes create the atmosphere, music making has to reach the listeners, and I cannot agree more.

But good music making is not enough, a communicative music making is often not enough. We as audience needs plain communication where musicians speak. Maybe it is unorthodox to do so but, we cannot deny its effectiveness.

Sometimes, when musicians from abroad come to Indonesia, it is nice to hear them say, “Selamat malam” or “Terimakasih”. Sometimes it is also nice to hear the musicians view of the repertoar or the particular piece. A couple of sentences, only those are needed.

A couple of days ago, we saw Lorin Maazel took the podium and spared time to speak “please enjoy” in Korean to the stone-faced North Korean audience which stir and relaxed them to listen to New York Philharmonic performance in Pyongyang.

Balai Sarbini

We have small halls here in Indonesia, and of course they ease the matter of interacting in concerts. With fewer people, we can ensure that the interaction is well perceived by the audience.

Musician even can throw some questions to audience and see their response. Moreover, a concert with this kind of atmosphere more or less relaxed the performers themselves. Just like playing music for a bundle of good friends.

But, I often see that only foreigners and a couple of local artists do these kinds of things. Most of us, local artists, often forget that the audience is also humans. We often forget that those small halls endorse more interactivity, and relaxed manner. For the record, I usually feel awkward when a performer in a relatively small hall does not say anything through the concert, as if we, the audience, were not there.

The audience will certainly open their hearts after we spoke to them, rather than get in-bow-sit- play -bow -get out routine that musicians usually do. And by the way, it’s easier to speak to certain 300 or so people than to a Royal-Albert-Hall-sized audience.

Stage-fright frequently place audience as the ‘enemy’ of musicians. Musicians is not an idol to be worshiped, extolled beyond the audience. Audience are friends to be embraced. To be on a riser is just a coincidence, so that musicians can communicate better.

“Not to speak to them, not to stare them, just concentrate on your piece, play as if they are not there” is never a good way to communicate. Of course you focus on your piece, but you also have to focus more on how the audience get your message.

Drop a line or two, eight to ten sentences a concert is often enough. Don’t throw it all to the master of ceremony. Seeing a musician as a fellow human being is gladdening, so say a word or two.

We have small halls, we can make a better use of them by better verbal communication on stage. Why wait for the music to speak out? Why don’t just talk?

About mikebm (1339 Articles)
An arts journalist, a conductor, an educator, a young arts manager whose passion drove him to leave a multinational IT cooperation to study Arts Administration and Cultural Policy in London and went back to Indonesia to build the scene there.

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