Maduswara: Peni’s commission for Kronos Quartet

Peni Candra Rini, our guest artistic director for this season, has just premiered at Carnegie Hall a composition commissioned by Kronos Quartet as part of their 50 for the Future program. Congratulations, Peni! Sukses!

New York Classical Review observes:

Rini joined Kronos for Maduswara, singing and playing the rebab…. Rini’s tradition is Javanese music, and Maduswara was an involving evocation of this. Rini’s writing for the quartet kept the traditional rhythms while opening up the textures so that every vocal inflection, bent note, and move from a pentatonic to a Western major scale—and back—had an extra expressive edge.

Photo by Peter McElhinney for Style Weekly

Peni and Kronos recently joined in a panel discussion at the University of Richmond regarding her composition and their process of adapting it. Andy asked her to sing a passage from it, and the effect was wondrous: the members of Kronos, no strangers to awe-inspiring talent, all spoke of being deeply moved by the power of her voice in close proximity, and began to think aloud about how that sensation might change their performance technique, to represent not just the “flotando” (floating, flute-like) timbre but also the deep resonance.

Update: the truly great news following this premiere is that Kronos has commissioned 4 additional compositions from Peni!

Peni Candra Rini, guest artistic director

Peni Candra Rini, PhD (b. 1983) is a renowned Javanese singer, composer, and faculty member at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts. During the spring 2023 semester she will be teaching as a Visiting Fulbright Artist-Scholar at the University of Richmond. She will direct Rumput and Gamelan Raga Kusuma, and join us in multiple performances and recordings.

Raised in an artistic family in a small fishing village in East Java, Peni first began studying voice at the age of 5 under her father, a village shadow master. She later moved to the Central Javanese city of Solo to study at the Indonesian National Conservatory of the Arts, where she completed her doctorate and was hired as faculty in 2020. She is a master of several traditional forms and is regarded as one of Indonesia’s most daring young composers, one of only a handful of female composers in the majority-Muslim nation.

The Kronos String Quartet commissioned and is currently performing her latest chamber work, Maduswara, which they premiered this year at Carnegie Hall. She is a former recipient of grants from the Asian Cultural Council, a two-time grantee of the US State Department’s One Beat Program and in 2022 was named an Aga Khan Foundation laureate of the arts. She was a principal performer on our first major production and tour, Shadow Ballads, in 2016, along with past guest artistic director Danis Sugiyanto, Gamelan Raga Kusuma co-founder Gusti Sudarta, and folk duo Anna and Elizabeth.

In addition to her university teaching Peni is owner and executive director of Candrarini’s Gamelan, Sentana Art Music Production, and Jagad Sentana Art Foundation.