Ria Soemardjo’s distinctive vocal style is shaped by her love of traditional Asian music as well as an inventive and eclectic approach to improvisation. Curious about her father’s love for the haunting songs of his traditional Javanese heritage, Ria has studied this vocal style characterised by non-western tunings and highly complex vocal ornamentation.
Her performance work is also informed by her intensive study of the Alexander Technique in the use of voice. Recent collaborations include performances with Anne Norman (shakuhachi player and composer) and ‘Rongo’ – the Millennium Chorus concert for the 2004 Melbourne Festival. Ria has worked on several community theatre projects, including the Museum project (directed by Bagryana Popov), the Grand Feeling (directed by Nadja Kostich, winner of the green room award for best fringe production 2002) and as musical director with the Brunswick Womens Theatre 2003 season (directed by Catherine Simmons). While regularly performing this ancient Javanese repertoire as soloist with various ensembles (she is the only female performer of this style in Melbourne), she has also collaborated with a diverse range of musicians and theatre directors to create original work and new arrangements of traditional songs.
Compositions by Ria Soemardjo appear on
Cross-cultural music by Australian composers. The latest CD from Le Tuan Hung, featuring compositions by respected Australian composers and performers including Ros Bandt, Brigid Burke, Warren Burt and Deborah Kayser, was nominated for a 2005 ARIA Award.