Shelter by Ria Soemardjo


“I was drawn to record a song that leaves the listener into a space of calm and reflection, and a spark of hopefulness.

There has been so much disturbing news coming in lately, the shape of our future seems to be shifting every second day, and I hadn’t been singing or playing my instruments very much. It was actually hard to find that authentic spark of hope I had initially wanted to share in this commission. And then while I was working on this song, my friend Ron Reeves (a wonderful musician who has spent many years in Indonesia) brought a huge Sundanese gong over to my house, which had been in storage for years.

I think that the deep voice of this gong speaks to our bones, regardless of  language or culture. It reminded me to sit still and listen and let the hope and the song come to the surface, no need to chase after it.

So my Shelter song is just me singing, in my lounge room, with 2 gongs, just the bare bones…

I recommend listening with good headphones or speakers if you can, to get the full magical gong effect…”

Shelter by Ria Soemardjo
Riagongcrop MaxMilne
About Ria Soemardjo

Ria Soemardjo is a Melbourne based musician with a passion for collaborating with artists across diverse range of genres and artforms. Ria’s distinct, haunting vocal style and reflects her Australian/Indonesian cultural heritage. Although born in Melbourne, her creative process is often inspired by her life long fascination with Balinese and Javanese cultural traditions.

Over the last 10 years, Ria has created and performed music for wide range of independent contemporary dance, theatre and mixed media projects in Australia and Asia. In 2019 she spent a month in residency (with Melbourne director/writer, Sandra Long) at the Nuart Sculpture Park in Bandung, West Java, working with Main Teater company to create music and vocal scores for a multi-media site specific theatre performance. Hades Fading premiered in Bandung in 2019, and received warm reviews at 2020 Asiatopa festival in Melbourne.

‘The Echoes Project’ reflects her deep interest in developing powerful contemporary performance/rituals, in response to urban sites. She was the lead collaborator in two events for Mapping Melbourne festival, which took audiences on an extraordinary journey through Chinatown (2017) and the Mission to Seafarer’s historic site (2018).

Ria’s compositions and live music performance for dance works have received Green Room nominations – including Enfold (2016) and Opal Vapour (2013). Both of these performances also featured her unique textile sculptures, and she continues to explore ways to integrate her formal training in fine arts through her exploration of ritual and ceremony in a contemporary context.

Image credit: Ria Soemardjo. Photograph by Max Milne.

Shelter by Ria Soemardjo is created for Shelter 2020.

Image credit: Ria Soemardjo. Photograph by Max Milne.