The classics come to Batam

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It was what the master of ceremonies called an historic first for Batam – a concert (recital in this case) of classic music. Which is precisely the reason I initially jumped at the chance to help classic pianist Youkyung Kim promote her unique event in the Smiling Hill newsletter ( Her manager, Juan from Spain, provided a stunning ad for us and we also put up a poster in Goodies.

But I was skeptical they would draw a crowd. I was unaware, however, of what other marketing they were doing.

Four our promotion efforts, Juan and Youkyung Kim visited Goodies for dinner and to

Ken and his double date

Ken and his double date

deliver two VIP tickets to the event. I was going with Via even if I had to pay the US$23 per person, but when the boss declined the tickets they were mine. Several days before the event, however, Yvonne, our Dutch restaurant manager, asked if she could go, thinking I was going by myself. Her husband was not interested, so we decided to make it a threesome. I bought a third ticket at the door.

Once Via arrived and put on her red dress (she had spent the afternoon at the salon having her hair done and putting on her makeup (2 hours, US$20), we met Yvonne at Goodies, where we caused quite an uproar. Pictures were taken and I asked Yvonne’s husband, Paul, if it was alright if I had a date with his wife. He looked at Via and knew it was not a problem.

(BTW, the quality of some of the photos are bad because 1. someone unfamiliar with my camera was taking the, or 2. I had to use available light in the concert hall since flash was not allowed. It is for this reason I do not have any shots of Youkyung Kim – my camera just requires too much light and it was too dark.)

Once my taxi guy, Eddie, arrived, the three of us were off to the Novatel Hotel, a short ride

On the red carpet

On the red carpet

from Smiling Hill. The venue was very n ice but it was not the original venue site, Planet Holiday Hotel, where they could not get the baby grand piano into the area chosen for the recital. So they moved to the Novatel.

My fear all along was that there would not be many people there. I doubted much of my newsletter audience – mostly roughnecks in the oil and gas industry, would be interested. And I was not sure how much appeal such a recital would have to the local population. Yvonne had the same thoughts but, boy, were we ever surprised.

We arrived about 15 minutes before the scheduled start and there was already a crowd seated. We were led to some VIP reserved seat on one side of the stage, which was set up above the audience and had a beautiful baby grand piano. We were four rows back and would have had a great view, except for the tall people in front of us. Fortunately, we were able to see between them.

As we waited for the start, people kept coming in. More chairs were needed. There wereyvonne.via V maybe 15-20 expats and partners and the rest of the crowd of about 200 people were a combination of Indonesians and Chinese. There were a lot of kids. I was very surprised and very thrilled by the turnout, as were the people putting on the show.

I’m not a fan of the Korean “look,” but Youkyung Kim was beautiful in her long black dress in the first set and stunning in her strapless white gown for the final 40 minutes. She played selections from Bach, Chopin, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven (a piece he composed shortly before he went deaf), Rave and Liszt. A master of ceremonies, English I think, introduced each selection with some history for context.

At the intermission, there were snacks Quiche, small eclairs, etc.), juice and coffee/tea in the lobby – a mad scene as everyone seemed very hungry. The food and beverage was intended for after the show but no one seemed to mind.

Our seats gave us a great side view of Youkyung Kim, where we could watch her hands as she performed these intricate compositions. Incredible skill!

After her second set and a long standing ovation, Yvonne wanted to rush out because we were late, our taxi driver was waiting and she was supposed to meet her husband and others for dinner. Unfortunately for us, the show was not over. The doors were locked and we could not get out Youkyung came out for an encore and we watched from the entrance, sheapish for our bad manners.

I had decided to go with Yvonne to meet her husband and friends for dinner since I didn’ dress think the restaurant Via and I were going to would still be open (it was going on 10 p.m.). So Eddie took us to a new place called Brewsky’s at the City Walk in Nagoya, and open air restaurant that offered home-brewed beers. It was jammed with mostly young Indonesians but the people we were to meet had already left.

Luckily, Eddie had not gone far and returned to take us back to Smiling Hill. Famished, Via and I quickly ordered dinner – a New Zealand tenderloin for me and tom yam kung (a spicy Thai prawn soup) for Via.

In the U.S., I most definitely would not have bothered with such an event, but here, in Batam, this was, as the MC said, an historic event. And a great evening for all three of us.


About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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