By Eliya Simantov, EBPP volunteer Music Programme Developer
24.12.11: We are extremely happy and proud to report on our talented students’ amazing performance at the Amankila Resort in Manggis, Candidasa, which took place just a few weeks ago on Christmas Eve. This is yet another dream of David Booth, EBPP’s founder and trustee, which recently became a reality. Ever since Bambang Sri Handoko (aka Bang) and I first started working and developing the EBPP Music Programme at the different villages in Ban, we heard from David that one of his dreams is to have a group of talented students from our village perform elaborate music and dance pieces around Bali. This, he felt, was to give them essential experience and confidence for their futures. David’s idea was to empower and enhance these children’s talent and leadership abilities, provide them with potential employment in the future (without them having to live outside of their villages), and also to raise awareness about the important work that was done by EBPP, and that still needs to be done in this desolate area of Bali.
Bang, who is a talented professional musician and proved to be a great music teacher, was working tirelessly together with Music Programme staff Edi and Made Kari (both Desa Ban locals), preparing this amazing performance, conceiving and arranging the show, and rehearsing with the students for long days. The youngsters who were to participate in the performance, aged between ten and fifteen years, were carefully chosen by Bang and the music staff from two of EBPP’s six schools, one located in the hamlet of Darmaji, and the other at the Jatituhu hamlet, which the Amankila Resort has been kindly helping to support since its launch in 2005. As the music team did not have much time to prepare before Christmas, they worked very hard during the couple of weeks before the performance, rehearsing long hours and more days than usual. After all, everyone wanted this very first “gig” to be super special – and of course it was!
When we gathered at the EBPP headquarters in Ban on the day of the big performance it was around noon, and I could already feel the heightened sense of excitement in the air. For many of the students it wasn’t only their first performance outside of Ban, but it was actually one of the very first times that they took a trip outside of their village. As we rehearsed the programme with the students we could sense that the kids were nervous but confident all the same, and there was no question about their sincere happiness and eagerness to perform. Their constant smiles and their liveliness encouraged us all and we all felt it is going to be a special night.
The trip to the Amankila Resort, which is one of the most exclusive and luxurious resorts in the whole of Bali and is located near the Candidasa Tourism area, was not easy for the students, who were not use to long bus rides. We worriedly kept an eye on them during the trip, which took longer than expected, and finally, we were all relieved to disembark at the resort. As we took our time to freshen up, eat something and relax a bit, we could see the sparkle gradually coming back into our brave student’s eyes. By the time everyone was in their costumes and finished putting on their elaborate traditional Balinese makeup, we all had a very strong feeling that this very first performance was going to be something quite special.
As we approached the time of the performance, our students now seemed to be very concentrated and serious about the show; obviously wanting to give the best debut they can possible deliver. We took them to the restaurant area of the resort, which was located near the small outdoor amphitheater in front of the swimming pool, and it was a joy to see how the kids remained so calm, poised and ready to “do their thing”.
After that, what we all witnessed was simply magic! The students all shined as they performed in front of the astonished audience. Some of them singing, some dancing and some playing music on recorders, ukuleles and djembe drums, the kids seemed to not only be fulfilling David’s dream, but to be fulfilling their own dream as well. Beginning with the beautiful traditional Indonesian children song Desaku (My Village), and continuing with a blend of traditional material as well as special arrangements of western music classics like Amazing Grace and Let it Be, the children did an amazing job performing brilliantly, while putting their heart and soul into their art. The traditional Genjek and Kecak performance by our young Darmaji boys dazzled the audience of about forty guests with its high energy and excitement. It was then beautifully countered by the lovely and angelic traditional dance performance that followed, performed by some of our young girls, while inviting the boys to join them in dance. The brilliant conclusion was truly moving for us all, as the kids came together for a reprise of the opening song Desaku, using the words of the song to let us know how they love their beautiful village.
We were all at a loss for words to express how proud and overjoyed we were, and still are, at this simply unique first performance of our talented young students. As they left the performance area, the giant smiles on their faces said everything that needs to be said. We are so glad we had this opportunity to see these children’s hope and dreams beginning to become reality, and we are hoping and working to see that they, together with all of the children of Desa Ban, will have a brighter, safer and more sustainable future ahead of them. That is simply because we, as expressed in the words of the song Desaku, love their beautiful village, Desa Ban.