Harry Mantong’s Song of Joy

From his earliest memories of singing in a children’s choir to forming the award-winning Palu Children Choir, Harry Mantong has spread joy around the world. 

I first met Harry on a crowded elevator at an event in Indonesia. Even among strangers in an elevator, Harry’s natural charisma stood out. It wasn’t a complete surprise to find out later that this same man was a featured performer at the event. 

Below the transcription of the interview is an audio of one of Harry’s songs. Be sure to check it out!

Alternate Arts: You were a top five contestant in Indonesian Idol. What are your memories of that experience?

Harry: I’ve always liked singing and performing. But to be able to do that as one of the finalists was special. Working with professional artists and arrangers expanded my skill. It enriched me as an artist.

I’m very grateful to have been a top 5 of the 30,000 people who went to the audition.. 

Alternate Arts: What are your earliest memories of singing?

Harry: I went to a Christian school and one of the activities was choir. So, I started to sing in the choir in elementary school. I may have been nine or ten. But my parents told me I was always singing when I was very young. After the choir, I started singing solo in the church. 

Alternate Arts: What music inspires you?

Harry: Oh, gospel music, for sure. And, I really like jazz. Yeah, pretty much pop, gospel and jazz.

Alternate Arts: You came to the US in 2009 to be part of the Beyond Idols Worship Music Tour. What are some of your favorite memories from that tour?

Harry: There are so many. First, as a professional in singing, entertainment, to be able to – I mean this is from an artist perspective –  to be able to perform in the US was really something.

And it was even more special because I would be serving God. I was bringing the things that I like and spreading joy. I felt blessed and joyful because every time I sang, people appreciated it  and then they felt something from it. And then, to be able to work with the other singers and musicians from Kenya, US and Indonesia was special. 

Those were the most frequent gigs that I had in my life because singing 24, 25 gigs there was. You know, everyone was tired, but then the joy and then the blessings conquered all.

Alternate Arts: Harry, tell us about your work with the Palu Children Choir. What is it and what’s your involvement with it?

Harry: I formed this choir with a friend in 2011. We were thinking about so many talented children in this city. They sing very well. We could see that from the churches and schools.

We saw this potential, that there’s a lot of children who like to sing, but they don’t have any place. They didn’t have any place for training or forming a group or singing together. And I remembered the joy I felt when I was in children’s choir.

So I formed this choir to accommodate these talented children, and then surprisingly, we won our first competition in 2012. Then we won the Asia-Pacific Choir Competition in 2013 and we were invited to the World Choir Competition in Latvia in 2014.

But unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to take all the children. So we canceled it. But we still participated in (more local) competitions. When we meet people from other provinces, other places, they say, “Okay, you guys are the Palu Children Choir. Congratulations for that. Good work!”

Alternate Arts: What’s your biggest challenge with the children’s choir?

Harry: Sometimes, as the children get older they find other attractive activities. Also, financial support can be tricky. They might come from a poor family who needs to support other things than the choir.

Alternate Arts: Sounds like a very interesting work.

Harry: In my experience, I think there is no challenge that we cannot overcome. The good thing is when the children are practicing, the parents are praying. They form their own group to support us. So it’s a blessing for me and my friends who train the children. We have a group of parents who really, really support us.

Alternate Arts: Fantastic.

Harry: Yeah.

Alternate Arts: Harry, if someone wants to learn more about you or perhaps the children’s choir, how can they do that?

Harry: We have some of the videos that we posted on YouTube. I’m available on Facebook and Instagram.

Alternate Arts: And so folks could search for Palu Children Choir on YouTube?

Harry: Palu Children Choir, or we have a short name they can search: PARENCHO.

Alternate Arts: Let me thank you for your time! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and sitting for this interview.

Harry: Thank you, Jim. 

To see some of Harry’s performances search “Beyond Idols Worship Tour” on Facebook. Harry is featured singing “It is Well With My Soul,” at :31 of this video.

Harry recorded Song of Birds for the Beyond Idols Worship Music Tour in the US, and sang it during each concert. 

Harry says this about the song, “It’s actually a reflection on how we are blessed by beautiful nature. You wake up in the morning and you realize that the blessing from God is real and then you are able to experience those moments. My father-in-law wrote it.”

4 Comments on “Harry Mantong’s Song of Joy”

  1. Hi Jim .Rachel and I were blessed to meet Harry and hear him Sing! It was in 2009,it is good to have times like that .It helps to keep our Memories closer to God.

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