Performing in Bali is always such a joy for me! I love immersing myself in its breathtaking beauty and wealth of artistic pursuits. In fact, Bali is one of the world’s most artistic cultures attracting artists from all over the world which gives me the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians, dancers and amazing videographers in ways I never thought possible.
Reflecting this international community of artists, for my latest performance, I was accompanied by Venezuelan cellist Cellomano, Japanese Oboe player Tomoca and Chinese choreographer and classical dancer Jie Fei who gave mesmerizing improvised form to my compositions.
Let me share a little background about this amazing island nation. As much as art permeates every aspect of Balinese life, I was surprised to learn that there are no specific words in the Balinese language for art or artist. Art is everywhere, whether it be the spectacular temple carvings, daily religious rituals or ceremonies celebrating every aspect of life; yet art was never distinguished as a separate activity practised by only a talented few. Instead there is a general term “tukang” which means “the one who beautifies.” I’m so inspired by this beautiful concept which I strive to honour in my compositions.
Artistic, religious and ritualistic life is all intertwined; the Balinese are talented musicians, painters, wood carvers, dancers, weavers and flower arrangers who practise their crafts to serve their temples and the community. You may find princes performing in traditional dances along with labourers for the glory of their village.
But now with the influx of Western artists much of that is changing as the new art patrons are tourists and traditional art takes on more experimental forms to meet that international demand. Creative dreamers – musicians, actors, dancers, painters and poets come together from across the globe to experience the rare beauty of this island nation and to collaborate and celebrate their art. I am one of those dreamers.
I’ve been spending more and more time on this lush island, performing and collaborating with other musicians, dancers, poets and even painters. My two most recent concerts were held in Ubud which is the cultural heart of Bali – the centre for spiritual enlightenment, meditation, yoga and all things artistic.
On a white baby grand strewn with flower petals and framed in flickering candlelight, I performed pieces from my Soul to Soul album along with some spontaneous improvisation. By popular demand I played another concert a few months later. My audience consisted mainly of Russian people who now call Bali home. They are a culture steeped in music with a keen appreciation for its many forms. With Australia in lockdown because of Covid, the Russians are in fact now the primary expatriate group investing in projects like the building of the PARQ complex where I performed.
PARQ is an eclectic and very modern space, a self-contained village of sorts, which has become the heart of all things entrepreneurial, social and of course artistic. Here I found a strong community spirit fuelled by a wonderful diversity of creative people from digital nomads to fitness buffs, yoga practitioners and of course, artists. PARQ consists of schools, restaurants, shops, spas, offices and fitness centres as well as ultra modern apartments. It’s Bali’s also leading modern art and fashion space where like minded people work, perform and play. It’s a unique venue, one in which I was privileged to perform and to which I will soon return to perform again.