The brightly lit and colourfully decorated stage nestled amongst tall trees and the towering bamboo structures from the recent Bamboo Biennale. Strategically placed lights and filmy cloth hangings fluttered in the gentle breeze that cooled the large crowd at the sixth Solo Keroncong Festival (SKF).
Now an annual event, the two night festival held on September 26 and 27 at Benteng Vastenburg featured sixteen local, national, and international groups in a vibrant and varied display of keroncong.
Chairman of the SKF committee, Wartono, said the aim of this year’s festival was to showcase the diversity of keroncong in the archipelago, to celebrate the special regional characteristics and to promote keroncong as a national music.
‘We specifically invited groups that play varied and dynamic music to show that keroncong can adapt to the colours and sounds of other music. We also included young and old performers: the attitude that it’s old people’s music is slowly changing.
The SKF is a good avenue for promoting keroncong as a universal music for all ages and regions and for reinforcing the fact that it is part of the identity of Solo: many famous keroncong musicians were born here.’
Surakarta mayor F.X. Hadi Rudyatmo agreed.
‘Local Government promotes and supports Solo as a keroncong city.’ he said. ‘We want this music to thrive and reverberate and we strongly encourage the young to take a role in preserving our musical heritage.’
He would like to see keroncong included in the extra-curricular activities of all local schools and hopes that one day the festival will be held on the banks of the Bengawan Solo as a memorial to local keroncong identity, Gesang Martohartono.
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