John Paul | A Classical Guitarist with an Indonesian Flavor
Of all the classical music varieties existing in Indonesia, classical guitar is perhaps the one that we don’t get to see so much. However, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have bona fide classical guitarists in Indonesia. It is actually the opposite. Names such as Sudirman Leman and Jubing Kristianto are pioneers who built their reputation through out the classical guitar scene.
One of Indonesia’s most promising and talented classical guitarist is John Paul. The guitarist, who fell in love with guitar after being influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Agustin Barrios, is currently doing postgraduate studies in guitar performance at the Koblenz International Guitar Academy in Germany under the guidance of Italian maestro Aniello Desiderio. He holds an undergraduate degree from Satya Wacana Christian University in Salatiga, Indonesia, and a Diploma from the Internationale Sommerakademie Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. His current studies have been made possible by generous supporters including Yayasan Musik Sastra Indonesia.
As a performer, John Paul is not only committed to introducing the standard classical repertoire to the Indonesian audience, but he is also dedicated to the dissemination of works by Indonesian composers. He performed the Indonesian premiere of Ananda Sukarlan’s first composition for solo guitar, “The 5 Lovers of Drupadi”, as well as the first public performance of Mr. Sukarlan’s piece for guitar and soprano/tenor, “By the Seaside: Twilight”, which was kindly donated to support John Paul’s studies.
As an educator, John Paul is also very committed. He was a member of the guitar faculty at Jakarta Conservatory of Music, and was recently invited to give a guitar workshop at the Faculty of Performing Arts at Satya Wacana Christian University, in Salatiga, Indonesia. He currently teaches at Musikschule Wagner in Koblenz, Germany. Aside from performing in charity concerts, he also volunteers to teach underprivileged children free of charge.
The Beat Jakarta was quite fortunate to catch up with this talented guitarist who just arrived back in town for summer holidays.
TBJ: Of all music types that guitars can do, why did you choose classical music?
JP: I didn’t. It chose me; curiously late compared to anyone I’ve heard of.
TBJ: Who is your inspiration in the guitar world?
JP: My professor, Aniello Desiderio. In responding to this question I attempted repeatedly to explain why. But words evade me. Somebody is just going to have to bring him here on an Indonesian nation-wide tour, so people can enjoy the blessed privilege of experiencing him playing live in concert.
TBJ: What do you think about the classical music scene in Indonesia these days?
JP: It’s getting better and better.
TBJ: There aren’t many classical guitarists compared to pianists or violinists. Has this fact change? Do we have more interest from the younger generation now?
JP: It depends on how much “many” is, and how important quantity is. I think what is important is that everyone should have the chance to discover and develop their talent to their maximum. Even if there were a huge interest from the younger generation, the question is, how many qualified classical guitar teachers are available in Indonesia to cater to such a need? I don’t want to belittle anyone, but I do think there should be laws that regulate the qualifications required to teach in music schools. It’s a typical mistake as a beginner to think that anyone who seems to play better than you is a suitable teacher. A year later you will realizes you just copied all the mistakes your teacher does, who still tries to convince you that as you “master” the guitar, you will get used to the pain in your back and wrist etc. Yayasan Musik Sastra Indonesia (YMSI) has a program called “Children in Harmony” that auditions children for talent and will, and grants scholarships enabling them to study with excellent well trained teachers. For guitar, Sudirman Leman is still at the forefront. I stongly recommend him to anyone who really wants be a professional guitarist.
TBJ: We heard about your upcoming concert in Jakarta, could you please share some info about it?
JP: Well, it’s a charity concert to help raise funds for underprivileged kids to resume school. I work together with Full Life Community. sites.google.com/site/fullifecommunity/
My own studies have been supported by so many, including Yayasan Musik Sastra Indonesia. Ananda Sukarlan donated a piece to me. It was bought and subsequently dedicated to my biggest contributor, Jim Basick, whom I consider my own father.
TBJ: What is your future goal?
JP: Oh dear, there’s just too many. I guess I just want to finish my studies first with the best results possible, and make a plentiful living from performing and teaching. Why plentiful? So I can help others. Of course, I’m not going to wait around until I’m rich to do what I can, which is much more than I once thought.
TBJ: John Paul by definition is?
JP: The Beatles minus George and Ringo? Hahaha… I think God is still in the process of defining me according to His will. Can’t go wrong with God.