As part of the “German Season”, the Goethe-Institut in cooperation with the Ensemble Modern and KfW Stiftung developed an ambitious music project.

For Ruang Suara (“soundscapes”), Indonesian composers and musicians were brought together with Frankfurt-based Ensemble Modern, one of the leading soloist ensembles for New Music worldwide. In joint workshops in Jakarta and Frankfurt, Indonesian composers and the musicians of Ensemble Modern experimented with Western and Indonesian instruments and explored different types of musical notation, tuning and sound. The pieces that the composers specifically created for the Ensemble Modern showed various artistic approaches: they featured scenic, audiovisual or electronic elements; they combined music with vocals and dance, or included references to the harmony and rhythm of gamelan music.

The exchange was divided into three working phases: during the first workshop, 16 young artists from all over Indonesia, selected by an independent jury, were invited to Jakarta to work with the Ensemble Modern and to introduce their works and music traditions. Following this phase, the Ensemble Modern selected eight young composers to create new pieces specifically for the cooperation with the Ensemble Modern. In January 2015, those selected composers traveled to Frankfurt to once again work with Ensemble Modern and introduce first drafts of their compositions. In autumn, all artists came together one last time to rehearse the final compositions.

The pieces premiered as part of Frankfurt LAB, just before the city’s book fair opened with Indonesia as Guest of Honour. In December 2015, concerts were held in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bandung as part of the “German Season.”

The internationally acclaimed Anglo-Ethiopian video artist Theo Eshetu documented this intercultural musical encounter on film. His experimental short film “Ruang Suara: Soundscapes” was shown before the concerts.

Ruang Suara was a joint project of Ensemble Modern, the KfW Stiftung and the Goethe-Institut Indonesien and was supported by Kulturstiftung des Bundes.
It was part of Indonesia LAB, a collaborative project of Frankfurt LAB and the cultural venue Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Ensemble Modern, Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste - Städelschule und Portikus, Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Hessische Theaterakademie, The Forsythe Company and Goethe-Institut Indonesien. The project is supported by Kulturstiftung des Bundes and KfW Stiftung.

"Each time we met, the musicians of Ensemble Modern made me believe that there actually is a way of merging two different cultures of music."

Dewa Ketut Ali, composer




Indonesia and Germany are connected through a long friendship, be it on a cultural, economic or political level. To celebrate this long-lasting relationship, an exciting format – the German Season – was presented from September to December 2015.




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