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Jakarta, the city of music.

Indonesia's strategic location is undeniable. Positioned between two oceans and two continents, with the equator running through it, Indonesia is a gateway between the northern and southern hemispheres, a hub of trade and human mobility.

The point is not, however, to analyze Indonesia's strategic position from a trade and economic perspective, but rather to highlight Indonesia's potential -- Jakarta's potential -- to be a place where people from all around the world are drawn for its music festivals.

Jakarta has been hosting the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival since 2005. This festival, held every March, has been heralded one of the largest and best jazz festivals at the international level and has proven magnetic appeal, attracting musicians from all corners of the world.

In 2010, jazz musicians from the Middle East and Latin America are expected to join their peers from Europe, North America, Australia, Japan and India, as well as from Southeast Asia, to perform alongside Indonesian musicians. A city of its size and cache, Jakarta is well equipped to host large festivals as it has numerous concert venues.

A number of concert venues have emerged recently in Jakarta and surrounding areas: from the Jakarta International Expo and Mangga Dua in the center of Jakarta, to Sentul City Convention Center in Sentul, a town in southern Jakarta known for its motor racing circuit. The well-established, if slightly dilapidated building Istora Senayan, the junior tennis indoor stadium Senayan, and the Jakarta Convention Center are also often used for festivals and events.

But these buildings were not intended for musical performances, so they are lacking in acoustics. The auditoriums in five-star hotels, which on some occasions have also hosted music performances, are not ideal venues for music performances either. And the number of buildings equipped with appropriate acoustics, unfortunately, cannot hold a large number of people and would fail to accommodate thousands of festival-goers.

As a result, for Jakarta to become a musical center, regional and central governments, in addition to private parties, need to recognize the potential of festivals as a business opportunity, and invest in specialized and well-equipped performance venues capable of accommodating larger numbers.

This year, Java Festival Production presents three festivals: the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival (held in March), Java Rockin'land (the largest international rock festival in Southeast Asia held in August) and the Jakarta International Java Soulnation Festival (scheduled for October 2009).

Similar to the Java Jazz Festival, Java Rockin'land and the Java Soulnation Festival aim to woo music lovers from Indonesia and abroad. During these music festivals as well as at solo concerts by international musicians, Indonesian musicians are given the chance both to participate and to soak up the different acts when they're not playing.

Indonesia has diverse musical styles. If they are packaged into alluring performances, highlighting their uniqueness and sophistication, it is very likely that foreign musicians will be inspired to collaborate with Indonesian musicians.

As it already boasts several annual festivals throughout the year, Jakarta has great potential to become the capital of music, attracting tourists and reinforcing the idea to international business players that Jakarta is truly a destination to "musically" unwind. With its strategic geographic location, Jakarta is a city that is easily reached; it is up to us to develop it into the musical hub it has the potential to be.

Jakarta's fate relies on whether regional governments, the central government and business players in Indonesia are responsive to these challenges. Let's celebrate and turn Jakarta into a city of music.

Widyasena Sumadio is a lecturer in the communications department of Al-Azhar University in Jakarta. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission from The Jakarta Post.

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Aug 26, 2009
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