Palu and Parigi Moutong prepared for Central Sulawesi’s cultural festival. Kaombona Urban Forest, the centre of attractions, was turned into a huge open-air stage, complete with stage decoration and lighting, as well as a state-of-the-art sound system.

As Manuel Paz, conductor of the Orquestra De Cámara De Siero (OCAS), flicked his finger, the first number began. The piece was “Suspiros de España”, a Spanish classic usually played to accompany dancing and paso doble parade. A brilliant choice to kick things off as its composer, maestro Álvarez Alonso, created it to enliven the night, which it did as it echoed throughout Kaombona Urban Forest in the opening act of Palu Salonde Percussion, Friday, 10 August 2018.

The enchanting foreign tunes, although unfamiliar, made hundreds of people among the audience sat with gleaming eyes and wide-open ears. For the first time, up close, they can watch an actual classical music concert: something that they previously could just watch from the TV. They recorded the performance with their smartphones. Heads and bodies rocked. Some closed their eyes to enjoy each note. As the tempo quickened, showcasing a higher accuracy and difficulty in performance, the audience gave an appreciative applause.

As they prepare for the second song during the round of applause, the 45 orchestra players from Asturias, Spain opened a new sheet of musical notes. Angela Lopez Lara, a pianist in OCAS’ Vinculos program for Indonesiana 2018, also acted as the mistress of ceremony and also flamenco dancer. Each time Paz and crew began a new song, Angela gave an introduction about it.

The second piece was entitled “Cubanita”. “This song is about the music of Cuba,” said Angela. Spain is familiar with music from that Latin American country, because Cuban melodies have Spanish roots. “Just like all countries in the world, through colonization as well as encounters, they influenced each other’s culture, including music.” OCAS’ guitarist Ivan Fernandez Prieto played solo for the song.

During the third and fourth songs, Angela asked the audience to sing along. OCAS collaborated with Pedati, a Palu percussion group. As the tunes turned familiar, the audience sang along to the Kaili song “Sampe Suvuroa”, which was written by Palu vice-mayor Sigit Purnomo Said. The song would later be replayed as OCAS invited Palu mayor Hidayat and his vice-mayor, who was formerly a musician better known with his stage name Pasha Ungu. The fourth song, “Posisani”, a piece by legendary Central Sulawesi musician Hasan M. Bahasyuan, got the audience more excited in the Palu Salonde Percussion cultural extravaganza.

The last four songs were “Fuente de la Lagrimas” by OCAS’ Javier Carmona, “Itimad” by OCAS’ Pablo Carmona—Javier’s younger brother, “Malaguerias” by Javier Carmina, and “Que Rico Mambo” by Perez Prado. The latter is a Cuban Mambo composition. “Fuente de la Lagrimas” was dedicated to Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

When Angela announced “Itimad”, the crowd cheered, especially the ladies. Not because they were familiar with the piece, but because Angela also introduced its composer, the young and handsome Pablo Carmona. The story behind the song made the ladies cheer again. It was inspired by the romantic tale of Itimad al-Rumaikiyah, a woman who was the love of a caliph during the Islamic period of Spain. On the seventh song, “Malaguerias”, Angela captured the attention with her flamenco dance. “Malaguerias” combined the elements of flamenco music: Mal Malagueñas and Bulerias.

OCAS also performed in the opening of the Vula Dongga Festival at Parigi Moutong, doing the same repertoire. There, when the two local songs were performed by OCAS musicians on Saturday, 11 August 2018, the solemn classical music concert turned into a folk party. As the upbeat “Posisani” was performed, officials went up on stage and mingle with the sitting audience. Director of Cultural Heritage and Diplomacy Nadjamuddin Ramli sang on stage while the others made a circle and danced with the crowd.