Candra Kirana Keroncong Band

One of Indonesia’s premier string ensembles will be making their way to Cairns for the first ever performance outside of their homeland this August. Bringing their traditional acoustic ukulele Keroncong folk music to the annual Cairns Ukulele Festival, audiences can expect to be drawn into the melodic and romantic spirit of the iconic Indonesian music performance. The showcase is all part of the Festival’s dedication to promoting uke music from around the world. This is a rare opportunity for world music fans to embrace a unique musical experience.

Ibu Lina is the lead singer and bandleader of the Candra Kirana Keroncong Band, keeping the orchestra together for over 30 years with band members hailing from Java and Sumatra, and travelling to Bali for frequent performances. The orchestra consists of a six-piece band, each band member comes from a family of musicians and has practiced the art of Keroncong folk music since childhood. The band’s name Candra Kirana means ‘bright, cool’, with the band using the traditional Javanese musical styles and applying them to an orchestra of non-traditional instruments, which creates a truly unique sound not found anywhere else in the world.

The instruments are Western, but are played in an unorthodox way which comes from the history of the Keroncong genre and how the music style formed. The history dates back to the Portuguese sailors following the spice trade in the early 1600s, the sailors brought stringed instruments with them during their travels. The foreign influences continued when in the 1880s the ukulele was created by the Hawaiians as an adaption of the Madeira braguinha and this new instrument made its way to Indonesia. The Keroncong music story telling style on ukulele rose to prominence during the Indonesian struggle for independence from the Dutch colonials. With a history beginning in folk music and traditional tales, the style further developed to include more modern tales of love, yearning, beauty, and melancholy as well as an appreciation of the natural environment and the countryside. This was due to the Keroncong music genres association with playboys and hustlers who used the musical style to influence and seduce innocent, young females into romantic trysts.

The Keroncong folk music style reached its peak in the 1960s across Indonesia and has since been considered a classic and traditional staple of Indonesian music since, although its popularity has begun to fade with the times and the youth now consider it somewhat old-fashioned. Candra Kirana Keroncong Band wish to preserve and promote this beautiful cultural music to share with further generations and they hope to inspire young people to continue the art form with Candra Kirana Keroncong Band’s lively showcase.

For the stage performance, the Candra Kirana Keroncong Band players perform in stunning traditional Indonesian dress; bright colourful silks and gold detailed designs elegantly adorn the musicians. The band is made up of bandleader Lina on vocals, her husband Hari on ukulele, Basuki on cello, Widada on violin, Fikri on double bass and Margono on cak tenor (a tenor ukulele,) to round out the ensemble of instruments and players.

Cairns Ukulele Festival director Gaby Thomasz was so taken with the band’s mesmerising performance that she booked them immediately for the festival. As their first international performance ever, the Candra Kirana Keroncong Band will be using this opportunity to share their romantic music and gorgeous tradition as a live showcase for Cairns audiences to enjoy. The visual impact and the seduction of the music is truly captivating for those lucky enough to witness. Don’t miss this special world music performance at the 2016 Cairns Ukulele Festival.

Candra Kirana Keroncong Band will perform at Cairns Ukulele Festival on one night only on Friday 26th August at the World Music Dinner at the Pacific International Hotel. Cairns Ukulele Festival runs from 25-28 August 2016 in Cairns, Tropical North Queensland. For more information, please visit

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