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Competition for Art or Art for Competition?

Summer is the best time for many activities, including musical activities. Many outdoor concerts, festivals, and competition are arranged to take place within this time.

Competition is the subject that we are going to discuss today, especially music competition. I took this subject because there are a lot of them coming, both domestic and abroad. Musicians travel at this time across the globe to participate, to judge, to attend these events.

Is competition the essence of working in arts? And why people stray from the real work in music to the realms of competition?

First of all, competition is a good thing. It is where people can prove themselves and all the works that they have done compared to other people. And usually it is done as a project in a limited span of time.

Eventhough competition cannot measure the progress of each contestant properly, but competition has always been a tool to do such things.

But for me competing is very different from working music. Working music is a constant struggle to contribute to the masses through music and works related to it. Working music also means that it is a continuous job, not just a mere project.

The big problem in Indonesia is that people concentrate more on competitions rather than the music work. People concern more on the topics of winning and losing a competition rather than a steady development of musical standards.

Competition can only serve as a milestone of the development of a choir, not the objective itself. Yet again in Indonesia, many feel that competition is the true objective of a choir. Winning a competition as the ultimate goal is quite popular here.

For example, we have quite a number of winners in various music competitions, both ensembles and individuals. And more of them are lined-up as a prize or merit winner in a competition.

But when do we see them performing music in the crowds, for public? Only a little fraction do so. Most of them disappear and unheard until the next competition or even years after the competition. It seems like these ensembles and individuals do music when it comes to competition and nothing else.

For me, doing so is not music making. Music making is always a vast area which is not only consist of doing music in a competition and winning it. Music making is developing the community through constant public musical activities.

Winning music or winning contestant is not the goal of music making. Music making is inspiring people, thus empowering people. Goal of music making is giving and contributing to people and community through the language of music, not through the language of gold medal and diplomas.

No wonder, people still cannot see the true wonders and beauty of music. It’s because the music making stops at the winning stage of a competition, not winning the hearts of the people.

So now I challenge you, Competition for Art or Art for Competition? OR now Art for People? It’s your call…


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.

6 Comments on Competition for Art or Art for Competition?

  1. “The big problem in Indonesia is that people concentrate more on competitions rather than the music work”
    me 2….but i dn’t thnk so 😛

  2. hmmm

    you just read the news about unpar choir’s victory didnt you?

    yeah, i agree with you mike. imho most choirs are so keen on winning a competition rather than improving their musicality continuously. it is obvious when you compare their annual concert vs their pre-competition concert.

  3. @hafidzi
    Thanks sudah mau datang ke blog saya ini….

    sorry to disappoint you,,, bukan karena itu bung… hehehe…
    artikel ini sudah dipersiapkan untuk terbit sejak 3 minggu lalu…

    tapi memang kenyataan berkata demikian… bahwa tiba2 semua choir menjadi hidup setelah mencium arena kompetisi, padahal kesempatan tampil bagus bukan hanya di atas pentas kompetisi bukan?
    thanx for stopping by again….!

  4. hehehe sori
    selama ini emang ga pernah mampir2 ke sini lagi..
    biasanya ngikutin doang dari blogsurfernya wordpress.

  5. hahaha, santai aja kali bang…. saya juga mengikuti blog anda juga dari blogsurfer….

  6. the truth is, this life is fulfilled with competition 🙂

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