Diatra Zulaika and Daniel Chagnon-Kropp: International Peace - One Song at a Time

10:32 AM

Hello everyone!

So on October 17th 2014, I was invited by my friend Zulaika to attend her concert. She's back from Germany! :-D (and now she's back in Germany). She once held a concert before she went to Germany (forgot what year, but it was a few years ago) and I was a bit reluctant to attend because I was afraid to go alone... what a mistake. But now I don't care-- I went alone nevertheless, and it was one of the best decisions I have made this year. Thank you for holding this event!

The performers are Diatra Zulaika and Daniel Chagnon-Kropp. They both met at Folkwang University in Essen, Germany. Zulaika studies Opera while Daniel studies Master's Degree for Classical Guitar. Their concert was held at Goethehaus Jakarta. Going there marks the first time I went to Goethehaus and the interior of the building was amazing! Very artsy. Also, because this building is quite old, when you go further inside, the walls, the paint, combined together they look very old school! It's nice to see a physical mark of history in this building; there are the modern parts and there's also the old school parts.

They held this performance in commemoration of World Peace Day 2014, as stated in the invitation. Commemoration comes in many forms! Relating to peace, well, I would definitely understand why music can be related to peace.

In the Romantic era, Arthur Schopenhauer created a hierarchy of fine arts, and music was at the top of the hierarchy. This meant that music was considered the highest form of fine arts, and his reason was because music was the "most universal form of art" because music could immediately affect human beings emotionally compared to any other forms of art. Classical opera music have stories in it, and often times, the songs invoke emotions in our hearts when we listen to them.

This is my personal opinion, but opera songs give you a feeling of tranquility, sometimes sadness, sometimes happiness, cheerfulness, or any other emotions, but definitely not any anger or aggressive emotions. That's why I could understand why it would be related to peace. Imagine performing a classical opera piece in front of an audience, what kind of emotions would it bring to people's hearts? I bet they're going to feel peaceful.

This is the song list for the performance. They perform songs by English Renaissance composer John Dowland, German composers Franz Schubert and Fanny Mendelssohn and Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.

Listed in order, Zulaika and Daniel performed these songs:

  • "Come againe, sweet love doth now invite"
  • "Whoever thinks or hopes of love for love"
by John Dowland, from the First Booke of Songes or Ayres. Transcription and edition for voice and guitar by Werner J. Wolff.

  • "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt"
  • "Kennst du das Land"
by Franz Schubert from his Four Songs from 'Wilhelm Meister' D.877. Edition for voice and guitar by Volker Niehusmann.

  • "Chanson des Bergères"
  • "Zoraide"
  • "Romance de Claudine"
by Fanny Mendelssohn from her Early French Songs. Edition for voice and guitar by Ulrike Merk.

  • "Heiss mich nicht reden"
  • "So lass mich scheinen"
by Franz Schubert from his Four Songs from 'Wilhelm Meister' D.877. Edition for voice and guitar by Volker Niehusmann.

  • "El Paño Moruno"
  • "Seguidila Murciana"
  • "Asturiana"
  • "Jota"
  • "Nana"
  • "Cancion"
  • "Polo"
by Manuel de Falla from his Seven Popular Spanish Songs. Transcription for voice and guitar by Miguel Liobet, revision by Emilio Pujol.

Encore songs: "Habanera" from the opera Carmen (originally composed by Sebastián Yradier and the French libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy) and "Kopi Dangdut". I' m not clear to who is the original artist of this song, because my friend told me it was Rhoma Irama but when I googled it, the name Fahmi Shahab and Inul Daratista came out first.

The performance by Diatra Zulaika and
 Daniel Chagnon-Kropp

Out of all the songs that they performed, my favorite is "Whoever thinks or hopes of love for love" by John Dowland. I don't know why, and I told myself to stop exaggerating myself, but as soon as the song started I could not hold back my tears. I cried and I don't know why. The song did sound melancholic, but it was the only song I shed tears for among all of them. This was the first time I cried because I was so touched by a song.

Sometimes after they finished performing a certain piece, Zulaika would tell the story behind it. I don't remember some, but what I remember was about Fanny Mendelssohn, the sister of famous composer Felix Mendelssohn. Fanny Mendelssohn created these songs from a poetry she found in her father's library at the age of sixteen. SIXTEEN. I was still such an awkward teenager back when I was sixteen, and definitely did not make songs. I did make art, but this seemed so incredible, to be able to create an opera song at such a young age.

Zulaika also explained about the song "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt" and "Kennst du das Land" by Franz Schubert. If I remember correctly, it was about a person who did not know where home is, yet keeps yearning for it. After typing this sentence I Googled this song, and this song is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which appeared in Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. This song is by Mignon, one of the characters in the novel. Now I remember Zulaika explaining about Goethe and Mignon! All I remember is that it's a song about yearning for something, when you don't even know what you yearn for.

The seven Spanish songs are folk songs, and Zulaika said, because they are folk songs, they leave a very wide room for interpretation. The songs are very short, and when you see the lyrics, everyone may have different or similar interpretations with one another.

After all of the songs have been sung, they bowed in thanks and the audience applaused nonstop. After a short while, some people started standing and I joined the standing applause. From my seat, I could see that they haven't gone inside the backstage yet, and then, with the audience still clapping in applause, they returned to the stage to sing an encore. 

The first song they performed was "Habanera". Oh how elated I was. Attending this was personally enlightening to myself. Habanera was one of my favorite opera songs, so after the experience with John Dowland's song "Whoever thinks or hopes of love for love", and now this. I was so so so happy.

Finished on performing Habanera, we audiences applaused nonstop again, and after leaving the stage, they went back again for a second encore. This time, they performed "Kopi Dangdut" and the audiences laughed (not a mocking laugh, definitely) because this time Zulaika was more playful and danced along while singing.

Finally, after the two encore songs, the show was a wrap! A finishing speech was given by Prof. DR. Musdah Mulia and then some friends of Zulaika went to give some gifts. After the show ended I went to the stage to congratulate her and say how pleased I was with this concert :-)

Me and Zulaika

The lady who helped take the picture had shaky hands :') but anyways it was a picture of me with Zulaika! It has been a while since I last saw her and I do miss her a lot! :-)

Attending her concert, I remember how I wanted to attend a performance in an opera house. This year I had gone to Europe, but sadly, the opera performances' schedules couldn't meet mine. Someday, someday, when I go to Europe, I hope I'll manage to see an opera performance. The tickets are expensive, but it's worth to watch once in a while.

One of the things I also noticed is that being an opera singer will probably make you a polyglot whether you like it or not-- you'd sing songs from different languages and of course you have to be able to pronounce the words well enough to be able to sing them. Aside from singing them, you will also have to understand the meaning behind it so you can build an emotional connection with the song, and to be able to sing it wholeheartedly (ok I'm exaggerating lol). In this performance only (with the encore songs), Zulaika sang songs in Indonesian, English, German, French, and Spanish. That's already FIVE languages. While you may not be as fluent in speaking them, you know how the pronunciation works in that language and that's already a plus.

Lastly, this is nothing related to opera, but I noticed something about stage lighting. In this case, the main character of the performance is standing still, so the lighting does not change while she's singing, but the lighting was positioned to make her have a "Rembrandt lighting" effect.

Rembrandt lighting
Source: link

Those lighting effects are photography lighting that usually makes photographs look nice. Taking pictures with a smartphone from afar won't look very good (look at my photo of Zulaika and Daniel performing above as an example), but the photographers will definitely get good pictures, and us audiences will see it as pleasing to the eyes, despite probably not knowing why :-P

Alright, that's all for my post on Zulaika and Daniel's concert: International Peace - One Song at a Time! It was a wonderful performance and I'm looking forward to another one. Cheers everyone!

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