Experiencing of time in an overwhelming 'gong temple'

Holland Festival Proms - Temple of Time

Sinta Wullur

Eighty-four bowl gongs in The Concertgebouw's Main Hall welcome you to the Temple of Time by the Indonesian-Dutch composer Sinta Wullur. This ‘gong temple’ the audience and the musicians enter together. A nine-member vocal ensemble performs songs based on ancient texts and sacred sounds from the four world religions. The lyrics are about time and the perception of time. The gongs at the concert are from the chromatic gamelan which Wullur made especially for her compositions. Temple of Time is a stunning and meditative experience for young and old.

Holland Festival Proms

For a whole day, from noon until late at night, there will be a vibrant mini-festival in The Concertgebouw. The Holland Festival Proms consists of five concerts and an installation. From a concert with virtual reality to the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and the swinging music of The Nile Project

From the brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen playing Karlheinz Stockhausen to an opera-installation by the Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto. The day is being hosted by comedian and television presenter Klaas van der Eerden. In the intermissions there will be performances by conservatory students, as well as short introductions to the concerts. For only ten euros per concert – or less for those who buy a day pass – you can hear the latest and most adventurous music from around the world. There’s an afterparty that night for everyone who can’t get enough of it.

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Background information

Temple of Time is a ritualistic installation and composition by composer Sinta Wullur and director Miranda Lakerveld. Central to the work is the gamelan that Wullur commissioned in the mid-1990s. Contrary to the Indonesian set of instruments, the gongs and kettle 

drums are tuned according to the European twelve-tone system. But just like original gamelans, the register of the different groups of instruments within the ensemble determines the tempo of the music that is played on them. In this way, the gamelan works like a clock, in which the biggest (and therefore lowest-pitched) gongs have the longest cycle, while the higher-pitched instruments move more quickly.

The four groups of big gongs in the ensemble share the space in quadrants, one for each of the religions that Wullur encountered during her youth in Indonesia: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. In Temple of Time, these religions are represented by four soloists who each sing one of the religion's singing traditions. They sing and recite parts from the scriptures of the religion; texts that shed light on the notion of time. Wullur and Lakerveld set out to find texts that express what the four religions have in common. On the basis of these texts, the work passes through the following stages: start of time (creation), the time of life, and the end of time.

Lakerveld selected the texts. She says, 'It is striking how much the four religions have in common. The story of creation. The number four in spatial arrangements, in shapes and in colours. Plagues that ravage the world at the end of time. Temple of Time lets you see and hear how sound and time are intertwined. Similar to recent theories in physics: vibration, and therefore sound, is the origin of everything. You come across the same idea in these ancient texts.'

Sinta Wullur describes the installation and composition: 'The suspended gongs form the pillars that, spaced far apart, support the whole. The small kettle gongs are the decorated tiles against the wall and on the floor. It is a building made of music. The audience can sit around and in-between the instruments. That reinforces the sense that they are part of this ritual. Because that is Temple of Time. Like almost every ritual, it has theatrical elements.'

In terms of the music, Wullur sticks to the rules that apply within each religion. 'In Islam, texts are recited without an instrumental accompaniment. So that's how we do it too. Respect is a key word, just like connection. We want to bring the religions together and bring people together in an experience that they can share with each other as well as with the musicians.'

 

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Festival focus: music from Indonesia

Following the focus on Turkey and its neighbouring countries (2015) and on the Edges of Europe (2016), this year’s special focus is on music from Indonesia. In the islands, many styles and genres exist next to each other in a fascinating way. We present a selection of contemporary work: noise from the streets of Yogyakarta and

folk from strictly Islamic Aceh, to modern  Indonesian composers. 

We show collaborations which transcend boundaries from artists from different corners of the archipelago. Rahayu Suppangah wrote the music for Setan Jawa, a new silent dance film by Garin Nugroho. Indonesian composers and musicians work with Ensemble Modern from Frankfurt in Ruang Suara. We are presenting A Night in Indonesia in Paradiso, with the latest music from the Indonesian underground, including the EDM duo Filastine & Nova Ruth and Senyawa’s acoustic metal. At the Holland Festival Proms the visual artist Jompet Kuswidananto is presenting an opera installation about censorship in art. The audience can also enter the Temple of Time by the Indonesian-Dutch composer Sinta Wullur. The context programming explores topics such as Javanese mysticism and joint Dutch and Indonesian historiography. 

Discover the sound of modern Indonesia.

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Biographies

Sinta Wullur wasborn in Bandung, Java and has lived in the Netherlands since she was ten. After receiving her degree in piano at the Amsterdam Conservatory in 1982, she studied composition under Ton de Leeuw, Theo Loevendie and Louis Andriessen. During that 

time, she also developed an interest in Asian music, especially Indian and Indonesian song, and the gamelan traditions of Java and Bali. Wullur travelled to Indonesia to learn more about its musical traditions. She has played in various Dutch gamelan ensembles.

She aims to combine European and Asian traditions in her music, in part by working with rhythmical structures derived from gamelan. In the mid-1990s, she had a gamelan orchestra built that was turned according the European twelve-tone system, as opposed to the Indonesian tuning in five and/or seven tones. She set up the Multifoon ensemble to play this gamelan, often in combination with European instruments such as a string quartet and a saxophone quartet. The ensemble played a role in Gamelan Symfonie by Peter Schat. She also used this gamelan in her opera Ramayana, on which she worked since 2001. She recently spent two years travelling around India and Indonesia. As a result, she started incorporating gamelan and Indian raga into her compositions. Her most recent work focuses on improvisation. In her concerts, she wants the audience to be able to share a ritualistic experience.

Miranda Lakerveld creates innovative stagings for opera and classical music to build bridges between cultures, religions and artistic disciplines. For this purpose she has founded World Opera Lab. Recent works include Orfeo in India, an adaptation of Monteverdi’s  L’Orfeo, with Indian and European musicians in Ahmedabad, Erda a performance installation with music by Calliope Tsoupaki at Dutch National Opera, Het innerlijke landschap (‘The Inner Landscape’) at the Holland Festival in 2015, about the Sichuan Opera tradition, and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, with communities in Amsterdam-West, combining Monteverdi with Arabic and Turkish traditional music. She made Majnun & Leyla fusing music and performance practices from India, Iran, Morocco and Turkey, and a series of opera/lectures about conflicts in the Middle East for De Balie, and Dance with the seven veils. To support her creative work she has done extensive research into traditional music-drama practices and religious ceremonies from India, Iran, Mexico, Japan, Guatemala and Tibet.

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Credits

composition, musical direction & percussion
Sinta Wullur
stage-director, libretto
Miranda Lakerveld
solo vocal
Ilyas Nadjafi
solo vocal
Chetna Sahni Sehgal
solo vocal
Namgyal Lhamo
solo vocal
Sinan Vural
solo vocal and percussion
Ganesh Rumnath
choir
Marielle de Winter, Juliette van Dijk, Miranda Driessen, Iris Ficker
percussion
Marijn Korff de Gidts, Jasper Goedman, Achim Heine, Fredrike de Winter, Clara de Mik, Krishna
costume
Jantine Kraaijeveld
lighting
Robert Wit
design gong standards
Ernst Dullemond
with thanks to
Davoud Perzische tapijten
Temple of Time was made possible thanks to financial support from the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst

This performance was made possible with support by