Concert 4: Rock the Peace

There was a buzz, an excitement that morning of Rock the Peace concert at Ciwalk, Bandung. Musicians, mostly high school students, arrived for their sound check greeted by sound engineers and crew who had spent the early morning setting up the stage and equipment. As North of Here (NOH) , a band from Savannah, Georgia, USA went through their sound check, six members of Te.O.Pe from SMKN Bandung Jurusan Seni Musik, arrived carrying their instruments – excited and yet tentative. They were the winners of the auditions held where ten bands vied for the coveted spot as the opening act for the concert.

Next, a girls choir from SMP Muhammadiyah 8, Antapari Bandung, practiced the “Peace Hymn” on stage with their angklungs. Soon the polyrhythmic sounds of percussion and drums filled the open space when the group Lisan took the stage. Their adviser/music director/vice principal told me that they are from Pondok Pesantren At-Tajdid Muhammadiyah Singaparna, Tasikmalaya and are performing songs that incorporate both traditional, popular and world music genres. The Mahad were the last to arrive. This was certainly an intriguing preview of the night’s concert. I held my breath at the range of diversity: Christian musicians from the United States, Muslim high school students from Bandung and the surrounding areas, genres of music that spanned from rock music to the Sundanese sounds of the angklung and to world music, the use of western instruments and traditional Javanese instruments, all of which could very well be the recipe for intercultural strife and misunderstanding. However, one thing was evident. There were two binding elements: their love for music and the cause of peace.

Meanwhile Peace Generation volunteers began to set up tents opposite the stage with Peace Generation paraphernalia. T-shirts, jackets, badges, bags, pins and write-ups on Peace Generation were going to be sold. As this was a maiden event, there was some measure of uncertainty organizationally. However differences of opinion were set aside as everyone worked intently for one purpose – to make this occasion a success and to make a strong expression for peace in Indonesia.

In the afternoon, gasps of joy erupted as Amalee appears with a huge poster board that was promptly mounted at the side of the stage. The poster board featured photos of world peace activists . “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind,” a quote from Gandhi stood out. Lennon’s poignant invitation, “I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one” extends to all who participate that evening.

The organizers informed me that they want to ensure that this was not merely an entertainment event but that peace themes were clearly and overtly communicated. Because of that the music program would be interspersed with publicity regarding Peace and the work of Peace Generation. Awareness of the goal of the event was furthered with Young Peace Maker awards that were given out to four recipients, honored for their work with Peace Generation.

The concert was preceded by a bike show that drew some curious onlookers. As I looked around, there were several categories of participants. There were the musicians, their support group of teacher advisers and also fellow students, close supporters of Peace Generation, and shoppers. As this was held in an open air space in the middle of a busy shopping complex in Bandung, shoppers stopped by to observe the event. Some stayed and others paused for a while. Albeit, by the end of the evening, the organizers estimate that there were over 1,000 people at the event.

Support for the performers was strong. When the choir sang the Peace Hymn, everyone else sang along. When Lisan took the stage, excitement mounted and their performance of contemporary, world and Sundanese fusion music added a further dimension to the types of music on display that night. An interesting phenomenon occurred when Te.O.Pe and Ma’had took the stage. NOH Band members immediately rushed forward to the front of the stage, cheering them on voraciously. Similarly, when NOH performed, the other band members stayed behind and supported. That night, every musician was part of the other’s performance and if they were not playing, they were fully supporting. It was as if “your success is my success, your failure, mine”. Indeed I mused, “Where were the walls? Where were differences?