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Australian and Indonesian musicians perform in historic temple concert to strengthen ties

A symphony orchestra performs on stage at night in front of a illuminated temple.
The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing at the Prambanan Hindu Temple in Indonesia.

Supplied: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

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The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has performed at a historic event in Indonesia, joining Indonesian musicians for an outdoor concert at the Prambanan Hindu Temple in Central Java, Indonesia.

The temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located around 17 kilometre from the city of Yogyakarta.

29 musicians from the MSO performed with 20 Indonesian music students at the event, which was promoted as the 'Yogyakarta - Victoria Friendship Concert'.

A man stands in front of a lighting rig at night.
Johannes Fritzsch, the conductor for the event.

Supplied: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

MSO conductor Johannes Fritzsch says that the name of the concert described the collaboration process well.

"I think it's a wonderful project to show how two countries can meet and [make] music ... and [get] to know each other better and ... understand and have a great time together," he says.

Fritzsch, who is visiting Yogyakarta for the first time, says he's fascinated by Indonesian culture.

At the concert, the orchestra played a mix of Indonesian and European classical music, as well as a piece by the Australian composer, Peter Sculthorpe.

"[Sculthorpe is] a very famous and important composer for Australia, who used lots of Indigenous tunes and music in his compositions."

The performance also included Haydn's trumpet concerto and, with students from Yogyakarta, Beethoven's Symphony No. 2.

They also performed two pieces by the well-known Indonesian composer, Budhi Ngurah.

A local television station reported that around 600 people attended the free concert, including 200 VIP guests.

An orchestra stands on stage looking at the audience. They are in front of an illuminated temple at night.
The MSO performed with Indonesian music students at the Friendship Concert.

Supplied: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

John Arcaro, a percussion player with the MSO, was also visiting Yogyakarta for the first time. He was involved in a workshop with the Indonesian music students prior to the concert.

During the workshop, Arcaro spent two days on tutorial and a percussion session.

"I basically demonstrated techniques and the way I would approach playing those instruments and the young Indonesian musicians asked a lot of questions," says Arcaro.

"We did a lot of playing together, [and talked] about how to warm up before performing and what [to] think about while you are performing in the orchestra."

Arcaro hopes that the project will continue in the future.

"And I would hope that it can also be a situation where the young Indonesian musicians come to us in Melbourne and experience an even bigger orchestra in Melbourne."

The concert is part of the efforts to strengthen ties between Yoyakarta and Victoria following the signing of a letter of intent by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and the Sultan of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, His Excellency Hamengku Buwono the tenth, in 2015.

Premier Andrews said at the time that the cooperation is a reflection of Victoria's commitment to cultural, social and economic engagement with Indonesia, particularly with Yogyakarta.

"We recognise the importance of Indonesia on the world stage and the strong relationship that Victoria and Indonesia share, which is set to grow further," Andrews said in 2015.

Two men shake hands by a desk. Three other men look on.
The Sultan of Yogyakarta shaking hands with MSO Chairman Michael Ullmer.

Supplied: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

This article is also available in Indonesian.

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