There was much singing in the Dutch East Indies, in the home but also organised on a larger scale. Choirs were formed for special occasions, such as performances of Mozart’s Requiem or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Membership varied widely, as people frequently went on leave or were transferred. Amateur choirs, church, youth and girls’ choirs existed in Makassar, Surabaya, Batavia and Medan.
Djakarta had the Batavian Oratorio Choir and, recently, Capella Indonesia. An ‘orchestra of voices’ was created in the Japanese prison camp on Sumatra during the Second World War and on Java community singing proved to be a welcome form of distraction, for example at Camp Struyswijk. Conductor W.F.Siep, composer of a set of traditional Dutch peasant dances, came to the Dutch East Indies and raised the level of choral singing in the region. Much later Brahms’s Requiem was performed with the Batavian Philharmonic Orchestra, in the Portuguese Church and other venues. NIROM Radio had a youth choir, conducted by Mr Kramer, which was quite popular.