The company I’m working for has a very close working relationship with Mr Gesang (the composer of Bengawan Solo). For the last few years it’s been quite a routine for me and several staffs to be in Solo every October 1st to celebrate his birthday (sometime as guest, but most of the time as host). This year (2008) we held a belated birthday party on October 18th because his original birth date (October 1st) was coincided with Idul Fitri day.
We arrived at Solo in the afternoon and went directly to Mr Gesang house for courtesy visit. He looked extremely healthy for a 91 years old although he started to have hearing problem on one of his ear. He even managed to sign quite a few of his new DVDs (to be launched later in the evening). We then proceed to go to Hailai, to put the final touch on everything, from the keroncong orchestra, the lighting, the video presentation, table arrangement, backdrop and banners, etc.
The night started with several keroncong songs by the keroncong orchestra. After that Mr Gesang was invited to the stage to blow candles on his birthday cake while the audience wholeheartedly sang Happy Birthday. Our company president then presented him with his newest DVD “Karya Emas Gesang Part 1 & 2”. In the following press conference, the always thankful Mr Gesang gave two strong message, the first : “Preserve keroncong music” and the second : “Stop music piracy”.
The DVD itself is very special. The sound recording was compiled from his recording albums from 1982 to 2002 while most of the video was taken in 2008. Can you imagine yourself make a recording album in the age of 85 and make music videos in the age of 90?
The most amazing thing of that night was that he refused to go home (we asked repeatedly since the night was getting later) before the keroncong orchestra stop playing. I don’t know whether he likes to hear keroncong music that much or he gives his respect to the orchestra by not leaving in the middle of their performance. At long last we told the orchestra to stop playing so we all can go home.
I’ve met Mr Gesang quite a number of times. But every time I met him, my admiration is growing stronger and stronger. He is already 91 years old, but he is still healthy and his mind is still very clear. His memory is still very strong, when I talk to him that day, he said he remembered me as a little boy when he visit our house in 1980’s. I think much of it can be attributed to his humbleness and easygoing nature. He always try to take the positive side of everything that happen to him and avoiding to have any grudge.
I wonder if I can be as healthy as he is when I get old. Hey, I wonder if I can even get to 80’s years old. So here my utmost respect to Mr Gesang, the keroncong legend of Indonesia.
My treasure from this year trip : I’ve got his personalized signature on the new DVDs (he wrote my name with his own handwriting on the cover). I think I kind of deserve it though, since I am the editor for most of the video.