World Premiere of “Dispersi”, first Indonesian Premiere

In October, 2013 I was contacted by Mr. Avip Priatna, one of Indonesia’s most celebrated conductors as he’d like to give a premiere of one of my piece. I then compose for the large ensemble with instrumentation: Piano, Percussion (gong), Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass.

The piece was in fact my first Indonesian orchestral premiere and was played twice by Jakarta Concert Orchestra in a Matinee concert and an evening concert at the same day at Balai Resital Kertanegara, Jakarta, 1st December 2013. It was a unique concert with an Asian theme where it features Asian composers. Mine and a piece by Indra Perkasa was a world premiere.

Unfortunately I could not come to the performance nor rehearsals as I was still in London at that time being.

It later on was covered on media, and I found one review online that made me smile:
(article in Indonesian)

Arranging Britten’s Friday Afternoons to present at LSO St Luke’s London

After joining as London Symphony Orchestra Soundhub associate composer, I took part in Benjamin Britten’s Friday afternoons concert this coming 22nd of November 2013. Together with some other Soundhub composers, we arranged Britten’s Friday Afternoons songs for four London Symphony Orchestra players to accompany children choir and original piano accompaniment.

The quartet line-up is Clarinet, Trumpet, Percussions (Marimba, etc.), and Cello. Quite a unique combo. I decided to employ Marimba in both pieces I arranged. I chose to arrrange “Cuckoo” and “The Useful Plough” as both pieces really hooked me the first time I listened to them. The set of songs were very interesting and shows how a great composer Britten is. He managed to keep it simple and easy for children to follow, yet keeps it fascinating.

This is my second time to arrange “under the shadow” of Benjamin Britten, having been in the UK at Britten’s centenary celebration this year. My first time was recomposing Henry Purcell’s Rondeau from Abdelazer Suite that brought me to victory on Baroque Remixed national composition competition, on which Britten himself had done his own unmistakable and very influential version in the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.

These have made me learn and admire Britten’s craftmanship in composing. I am very glad that I had these chances before going back to Indonesia.

I am very looking forward to the concert day and listen to the whole exciting Friday Afternoons and the fresh arrangements by other Soundhub composers.

For more information about the concert, please refer to this link:

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulder of giants
-Isaac Newton

Admitted as London Symphony Orchestra Soundhub Associate Composer

This is a very good news that arrived right after I completed my Masters degree in Royal Holloway. Stepping into my composing career, I am glad to be admitted to one of London Symphony Orchestra’s prestigious scheme for composer: Soundhub and become one of their 6 associate composers chosen this year. It is good to know that I was shortlisted for Soundhub membership, although did not go through because of the high number of applications for the scheme with a very strong set of proposals.

 Anyway, as an associate there are a lot that I would benefit, from 

being part of a strong network of composers and musicians, get access to Soundhub sessions over the year with LSO players and industry professionals, access to LSO concerts and rehearsals and LSO St Luke’s. 

And here is the first Indonesian (female) young composer in the community of LSO Soundhub composers 🙂

I am looking forward to learn and explore more of the composing world 🙂

World Premiere of “Salvage” for Hebrides Ensemble at St Magnus Int Festival

I was so delighted to be invited to attend the prestigious St Magnus/Orkney composer course in Orkney, Scotland, June 15-26 which only 8 composer participants (no age restrictions) are chosen every year for this 11-day-course.

The course was run by Alaisdar Nicolson and Sally Beamish and with patron Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Too bad Max was undergoing a therapy that he had to withdrawn from teaching the course. We worked closely with tutors and the resident ensemble (Hebrides Ensemble) in practical sessions. Having been paired with a conductor from the Orkney Conductors’ Course run by Martyn Brabbins and Charles Peebles, new works was performed in a final concert on Wednesday 26 June 2013 at 12.45 as part of the St Magnus International Festival concert in the stunning St Magnus Cathedral. I am very happy that my piece was conducted by Charles Peebles.

The highlight of the course for me was the session with Ann McKay, Chief Producer of BBC Symphony Orchestra and knowing that she does remember me from the BBC Baroque Remixed Concert at Roundhouse back in March. We had a quick chat afterwards about why my piece went into 2 BBC websites (BBC Radio 3 website and BBC Music Showcase website) for a while in March-April –check out my Gallery tab Apparently she did not recognized the Showcase website as it seems to be a new one, but commented that I must have done very well that my piece was put on two BBC websites. Well, that is something nice to hear 🙂

Back to the world premiere of my piece for Hebrides Ensemble, “Salvage”, an exploration of light and dark. Here is more or less the programme note: “This is quite a personal piece as it was written after my father had undergone a stroke. It was a difficult time for me as he is ten thousand miles away. He has been delivered from death at least 3 times in his life. The first one was with me during a bad car accident when I was four years old. The fact that he is still alive, and now walking and speaking as normal made me feel to write a testimonial piece as a gratitude on how much God has been miraculously sustaining our family life. In the performance there will be a representation of the sounds of trembling knees and hands, the weepings, racing heartbeats, breaths, emergency service’s siren, the panic and the prayers we lifted in the darkness. There will be a moment of light, my imagination is perhaps my father was already at the heaven’s gate but God decided to bring him back to life as the high register of strings was descended by a solo cello pentatonic melody followed by the clarinet.”

I used five pitch material that underlies the composition, symbolizing my family of five (mom,dad and 3 daughters).

I was very glad that the piece got a warm welcome and was well-received by audiences, performers and conductor Charles Peebles himself. Charles and the Hebrides Ensemble gave the piece a justice, and I felt honored to hear Charles Peebles saying “it was a good piece, a very good piece” the moment he conducted it first time at the workshop. I think after the performance when I thanked him, he said “it was a great piece”. When I was trying to explain the composition, Charles said to me that the music had told him all, and it was there on the music. I was surprise on how he had captured it. Even more, I was sitting next to Martyn Brabbins at the workshop who also gave good comments on both my name and the music. He smiled to me a few times during my workshop.

Three people from the audiences came to me after the concert congratulated me and said how it touched them. Some asked me to make sure that my dad is okay 🙂 Some conductors from the course and a brilliant accordionist who gave us workshop earlier admitted that it had hit them right in their hearts and some said it was their favourite. Fellow composers and other performers at St Magnus festival were also very encouraging and supportive. A tutor told me how the Hebrides enjoyed playing my piece.

The best comment I received that still makes me smile I think was “you made the siren sounds poetic”.
And the violinist from Hebrides ensemble, Alexander complimented my conducting after I conducted the piece at one of the workshops had made my week. He also said that my pitch selections to convey the ‘light’ was effective.

Oh and during the course we were also asked to compose a song from a poem by poet from the Orkney Writer Course to be sung by a brilliant mezzo-soprano, Alison Wells on a workshop. I was paired with a nice poet lady, Stephanie Green, to turn her deep and meaningful poem “The Child of Breckon Sands” into music. We only met at the workshop, so after I finished composing the tune.
She kindly had commented in her blog “Marisa’s music was hauntingly beautiful and very evocative of what I was trying to achieve in my poem. I was thrilled with it, and also delighted to meet the charming Marisa.”

Find here:

Alison Wells, after sight-reading and singing my two versions of the song poem commented that my word setting with the music sounds very natural to be sung, agreed by the tutors, that she enjoyed singing it and liked the shape of the tune.

Tutors give me a note to learn about where to musically emphasize the phrase “and the rain-throated rain-goose” which is quite tricky for me as English being the second language.

I really cherished this experience and the opportunity to meet brilliant musicians, artists and almost everyone in the industry in a beautiful land of Orkney which apparently have such a distinct weather compared to London/Egham during Summer.

Could not be happier about my first journey and premiere in Scotland 🙂

Awarded Dame Felicity-Lott Bursary 2013

This is a little bit outdated news, but I have just been awarded the Royal Holloway’s College Prize of Dame Felicity Lott Bursary this year 2013 in June 11. The aim of this fund is to support a student graduating from Royal Holloway University of London who wishes to seek professional training as a performer. “We are very pleased to be able to provide you with some assistance for your training as a conductor and hope that you find your future studies both enjoyable and rewarding.”

This still feels surreal and I am very delighted to receive the award. Looking forward for many opportunities to come in being a conductor.

Accompanying a Soprano friend for North London Festival competition

I accompanied Harmony Chen, my classmate performer in Royal Holloway’s master of music degree for her competition in North London Festival. She sang Handel’s Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion, Mozart’s Die Zufriedenheit and opera aria by Donizetti (O luce di quest’anima). Harmony won the second prize on the song recital category despite the tough competition with Linda Hirst as adjudicator.

Photo courtesy of Harmony Chen.


Wayang Golek Puppet Theatre in London this July

Me and my new group (Undergraduate and Postgraduate students from Royal Holloway) will be accompanying a Contemporary Wayang Golek Puppet Theatre in London, 6th July at Clore Ballroom, Level 2 Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre on an event called “Gamelanathon”.

We don’t actually play the gamelan, but at some points will be performing like a gamelan ensemble.

The instrumentation of the ensemble will be:

Piano – with me myself performing

Percussions – Adam Williams

Vocal – Harmony Chen Chi Wang

Flute – Amy Burrows

Double bass – Caspar Green

I will be the music director and composer (and performer too!), collaborating with Professor in Drama and Theatre, Prof Matthew Cohen, a foreign “dalang” (puppet master) who will be doing the puppetry and telling the story.

His profile can be seen here:

This is a really amazing opportunity and I feel very honored to be able to work together with Prof. Matthew, such a talented and celebrated “dalang” who was awarded the title of ‘Ki Ngabehi’ from the royal court of Kacirebonan in West Java for ‘great and consistent attention to the culture of Indonesia, particularly in the field of traditional puppetry’. He is the perfect man to collaborate with!

This is also a huge project for me, to first perform, compose and arrange for an hour (approx.) duration puppet theatre.

The compositions and arrangements are still on progress of being written, and it is a very daunting process, I have been thinking about it day and night. I truly hope that the audience will enjoy the theatre and the music, and that the Wayang Golek will be spread even more in the UK, helping to re-shape the dignity, confidence and nationality in Indonesian youths that I feel have somehow diminished.

Press Release by Antara News

Antara News Press Release (for link click here)

My first press interview with Indonesian News: Antara, covering the BBC Baroque Remixed Project and being the finalist. Included my views as an Indonesian composer, being one in the UK, my dreams, and hope for Indonesian music in the future. Quite an interesting article. It almost reach 2800 views and has been tweeted 370 times in 24hrs+ !

PS:  it’s all in Indonesian


St Magnus Composer Course

Marisa Sharon Hartanto will be joining St Magnus Composer Course in Orkney on 15th-26th June 2013!

Almost can’t believe that I am one of only 8 chosen participants to join this remarkable course this year.

Am so excited to write for the brilliant resident ensemble: Hebrides Ensemble and have it premiered on 26th June!, to watch BBC Symphony Orchestra concerts live (and many other brilliant performances in St Magnus International Festival). And to meet Sir Peter Maxwell Davies who will be leading some sessions, and to have one-to-one tuition with the course director: Alasdair Nicolson and co-director Sally Beamish.

Look forward to it!

Orchestral World Premiere

I will never forget the experience of listening to my first composition being performed by an orchestra (and it was by BBC Concert Orchestra! conducted by Charles Hazlewood) at Roundhouse, London, March 11, 2013.

“Rumble to the Past” was a work I composed in late October, 2012. It was half abandoned as I was working on my Trio for Piano, Clarinet, Viola (Transformasi) that term and the deadlines were very close together. BBC Concert Orchestra talent search Baroque Remixed Project’s deadline was 26th November 2012 while my trio submission was on 28th. I finished the piece over the weekend on saturday-sunday prior to the deadline (I still don’t know how!)

I sent it in on the day of deadline and a few weeks later got a call from BBC Concert Orchestra that my piece was chosen of 5 composers that will be in workshop at BBC Maida Vale Studios London. My nerves haven’t ever been that crazy ever in my life on the day of workshop (which mine was played last and all of the other pieces were very intimidating!), and not to be mentioned on the day of performance at Roundhouse.

I was so nervous that my legs were shaking really fast (almost like jogging) while i was sitting on the backstage. Deborah, the BBC CO assistant and some other backstage crews were asking me if I were okay a few times and even gave me some water to drink. I couldn’t help the tears coming down my cheek too, I wish my parents could have been there to watch the performance and acknowledge me being a ‘real’ composer.

I was really pleased and glad that it went really well and the audiences seemed to be enjoying the piece too. Some of the audiences told me how they were impressed and enjoyed the piece after the concert.

Really grateful for this experience and I hope it won’t be the only one!

Biggest thanks to Andrew Connolly (BBC CO General Manager), Charles Hazlewood (conductor and panel of Baroque remixed), Anne Dudley (panel of Baroque remixed), Andrew Cottee (panel), and Cynthia Fleming (panel), Andrew Knight (harpist that I’ve troubled on the piece :p) and of course to BBC Concert Orchestra’s wonderful players.


full-length concert of Baroque Remixed concert:

about Baroque Remixed:

Finalists announced:

Concert Programme:

Video of the workshop at Maida Vale Studios: