People We Admire: Dr. Gatot, Senior Cosmetic Chemist

“Keep him in line, otherwise he’ll try all kinds of new things.” Talk to his wife, Hasnah. She will tell you that her husband loves to experiment. Dr. Gatot smiles as he assembles powders and oils into new formulas, saying, “The good thing is when you start, you can adjust later.”

Paul Penders senior cosmetic chemist moves throughout the laboratory with a twinkle in his eye. As he reaches for bottles and measures out quantities, you sense he knows exactly what properties the ingredients will give to a formula. He attended the famous Gajah Mada University in Jogjakarta and earned his doctorate from the prestigious Airlangga University in Surabaya, Indonesia.

His particular specialty is tropical flowers.

Paul tells me, “You can ask Dr. Gatot anything about flowers.” A glance at any box in the product line reflects his expertise – angelica, arnica, calendula, chamomile, ginger, lavender, rosemary and many other flower oils and herbal extracts are carefully blended in exact proportions into creams, lotions, shampoos, and more.

Dr. Gatot and Paul Penders are both excited. Paul has returned from the Malaysian mountains of Perak where he wandered high into the jungle to an indigenous village. He has brought back with him samples of the tropical “senduduk” white flowers, a special mineral clay collected from a sacred stream and bottles of the waterfall water. They have had these rare elements tested by internationally accredited laboratories and it turns out they contain minerals like potassium and manganese that are healthy for the body. The mountain stream water is so pure, you can drink it.

Now they get to play.

The real fun for the cosmetic chemist seems to be in the formulation of something new. Paul Penders has worked with Dr. Gatot for years and the trust and understanding they have with each other is evident as they brainstorm new formulas. It is fascinating to watch these two men as they suggest ingredients for new cosmetics.

Dr. Gatot and his wife Hasnah at
a recent cosmetics industry trade show

Not every day in the lab is as exciting as when making new products. Because Paul Penders products are cold blended and made in small batches, Dr. Gatot must supervise and check that staff prepare formulas to his exacting requirements.

“And you thought making shampoo was easy,” says Paul.

As I watch, Dr. Gatot stirs the shampoo on a machine with magnets. Before my eyes, it becomes thick and creamy, and changes from a clear liquid to the color of fatty milk (the kind we no longer drink).

He holds out a small bowl for me to smell. The scent is sweet, even deep, with many notes of cinnamon and sugar. “Earthy,” Paul calls it. Dr. Gatot writes down the exact proportions and grams of each ingredient.

“This is expensive shampoo! The most expensive I’ve ever made,” laughs Dr. Gatot.

And I answer, “I’m just amazed!” The new shampoo that Dr. Gatot has just created is a big commitment – this formula will be replicated thousands of times. That formula needs to be perfect. Tonight we will all be given samples to take back to our rooms – tomorrow we’ll each report on how the shampoo feels and works on our hair and skin. Volunteer testing!

Left to Right – At a recent charity concert organized by Paul Penders Co as
part of its SRP / CSR, three of our favorite people got together: medical
doctor and tropical herbs expert Dr. Ghani, concert pianist and author
Gary Goldschneider, and far right, Dr. Gatot — people we greatly
admire who have been featured in the PP Blog.

By Teviot Fairservis.


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Ten Wonderful Days with Concert Pianist Gary Goldschneider

“Because beauty is more than skin deep…”

Why would a company that makes beauty products sponsor music? Or donate to a charity or a good cause? Here at Paul Penders, we believe deeply that every business has a responsibility (CSR) to be a positive force for good in its home community and so we support programs like the vegetarian restaurant that provides free meals to the poor and the local charity that serves underprivileged families. But sometimes we do even more…

Our island home is a place of real beauty – a place so filled with Nature’s gifts that UNESCO has established Langkawi, Malaysia as a “Geopark.” Being on an island, we live a bit isolated from the worlds of arts and high culture. That’s why when we had the opportunity to bring the beauty of Western classical music performed by a master artist to our shores for the first time, it seemed to be a heavenly marriage: beautiful Nature meets beautiful Art – chaperoned by a beauty company!

“You could have heard a pin drop.”

Concert pianist Gary Goldschneider performed Beethoven, Chopin,
and Schubert on a 21st Century digital piano on Langkawi.

So said one of Penang’s leading producers of music events who arranged for concert pianist Gary Goldschneider to appear at the prestigious Penang Club in an intimate evening for their members. Transfixed by the beauty pouring forth from the baby grand, the audience sat very still throughout as Gary performed perhaps the longest piece in the piano repertoire, Franz Schubert’s “Sonata in B flat major, op. posth., D. 960.” The applause afterwards was thunderous!

For 10 wonderful days, Paul Penders and his family and the staff of Paul Penders International played host to the noted concert pianist, composer, and best-selling author. This gracious gentleman shared his gifts for music, the written and spoken word, and a unique understanding of people during a 10-day whirlwind visit to Malaysia.

Time to relax – Some great Malay-style meals and a lovely sunset cruise around
Langkawi added to our happy memories of Gary Goldschneider’s visit.

“Gary” — as he asks everyone he meets to call him – flew from his home in Amsterdam to Langkawi for a week’s visit including a benefit concert for the island’s leading charity at the Westin Langkawi Resort, then on to Penang for appearances at the delightful China House and the Penang Club. One of the happiest moments of his Malaysia tour was an afternoon master class with young piano students. When everyone trouped outside for a photograph at sunset, an unusual rainbow appeared above Langkawi’s ‘Container House’ – a sure sign that this was ‘meant to be…’

A rainbow appeared above Langkawi’s Container House and Kuah Harbor
Just as ‘Gary’ gave a master class to island piano students.

Paul first encountered Gary’s work some twenty years ago browsing through a San Francisco bookshop. Gary’s best-selling Secret Language of Birthdays had taken the publishing world by storm (to date, it has sold some 1.3 million copies). Paul bought and kept a copy through the years. When he heard that Gary was performing a piano concert in Amsterdam in 2010, Paul got on a plane from Malaysia to hear him. They were introduced and Gary invited Paul and his family home for dinner with his wife, Berthe, Amsterdam’s leading food reviewer.

“Blown away” by Gary’s mastery of classical music as well as his understanding of “personology” as seen in his “Secret Language” books, Paul dreamed of organizing a visit to Malaysia. He especially wanted to bring Gary to the small Geopark island of Langkawi where it would be the first time that a concert of classical music had ever been performed by a master artist.

A highlight of the visit was the chance for island piano students to take a master class with a world class artist.

It took several years to organize but just this past month, October 2012, Paul’s dream did come true!

And it’s just the beginning. Paul and Gary are cooking up an extraordinary project to take place in January 2014 at the “Container House” on Langkawi that Paul recently completed and has dedicated as a center for charitable activities. Tentatively titled the “Langkawi Chamber Music Festival” (LCMF), plans include several days of master classes and performances with leading violin, cello, and piano performers, and other artists as well. With Gary Goldschneider as Artistic Director, the LCMF promises to bring the highest calibre of talent to this growing tourist resort island.

Planning strategy — Gary Goldschneider and Paul Penders plan more visits to Malaysia by world class artists.

“When is your birthday?” Gary often asked during his stay. His visit also included several lecture / demonstrations on his system of ‘personology,’ developed over years of study of the birthdays of celebrities. His “Secret Language” series of books on birthdays, relationships, and destiny look at the traits shared between those born on the same day, week, and month. In the future, we can happily celebrate this past month as the birthday of a classical music festival on Langkawi!

Many people were involved in making Gary’s visit such a success and all deserve warmest thanks!

A team formed of local professionals worked hard to make the concert a great success!

* Top Photo: Concert pianist Gary Goldschneider performed at a sold-out benefit for The Charity Club Langkawi at the Westin Resort – the first concert of classical music ever performed on our island home. Photo by Alif Emmes Abdullah.

By Teviot Fairservis.


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Beethoven, Chopin, and Schubert come alive under the hands of Concert Pianist Gary Goldschneider

What do Beethoven, Chopin, and Schubert all have in common? These three great composers all wrote compositions for the piano (or pianoforte as they called it) which will be performed by world-class concert pianist Gary Goldschneider in Malaysia this October. These Romantic composers number among the creators of the world’s greatest works of art. Professor Goldschneider has carefully selected a program of accessible and exciting examples of their work sure to delight an Asian audience.

“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is something we at Paul Penders take very seriously — and enjoy! Thanks to our customers, we are able to make a difference in the lives of our local community through charitable works and support of cultural events. Hosting our friend, the classical pianist Gary Goldschneider, on a visit to Malaysia to bring the beauty of Western classical music for the first time to this remote rainforest island of Langkawi is one example of CSR that brings real pleasure.”

Visiting Malaysia for the first time, Prof. Goldschneider will travel to Langkawi and Penang from October 15th to the 28th at the invitation of CEO Paul Penders of Paul Penders International. He is scheduled to perform at a benefit for the Charity Club Langkawi at the Westin Langkawi Resort on Friday, October 19th and then will travel on to Penang for an appearance there on October 26th.

An American concert pianist born in Philadelphia, he served as a professor of music in the U.S for many years while continuing his performing career. Since leaving academia, he is based now in the Netherlands and continues to perform throughout Europe. Though he has traveled extensively, this will be his first visit to Asia.

Compositions by three different musical giants offering differing approaches to romanticism will be featured in Prof. Goldschneider’s concerts. Beethoven, Chopin, and Schubert are all considered pioneers who had major influences on the Romantic Period in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Their music remains among the most accessible and popular of all Western classical music literature.

Prof. Goldschneider will open the concert program with “Grand Sonate Pathetique in C minor” composed by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). The sonata is in three movements and begins with a slow introductory theme marked ‘Grave’ (slowly, with solemnity) followed by an exposition, development and recapitulation in ‘Allegro di molto e con brio’ (quickly, with much vigor). The second movement is ‘Adagio cantabile’ using a famous “cantabile” melody (slowly, in a singing style), followed by ‘Rondo: Allegro’ (quickly).

Two hundred years after its publication in 1799 when he was just 27 years old, it remains one of the most popular of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. Dedicated to the German prince Karl Lichnowsky, it is said the prince was so impressed by its ‘tragic sonorities’ that he suggested the name, “pathetique.”

“Three Nocturnes” by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) follow on the concert program. Most often melancholy in feeling, Chopin’s nocturnes are widely considered among the finest short solo works ever written for the piano. Nocturnes generally follow a “ternary” A-B-A structure in which a theme is introduced, then a second one contrasts, then the original theme returns.

Often considered – like Beethoven – a transition figure from the Classical Era, Chopin heralded the Romantic Period with a number of innovations in the nocturne form. Notably, a clear melody is played with the right hand while the left hand plays ‘broken chords’ (arpeggios, “riffs”) which provide a rhythmic line. These nocturnes also require extensive use of the piano’s foot pedals to sustain notes which can give the music a rich emotional expression. Prof. Goldschneider has selected three to perform: “1 – F major, Op. 15, no. 1 (composed between 1830-1832); 2 – D flat major, Op. 27, no. 2 (1835); and 3 – C minor, Op. 48, No. 1 (1841).”

The program will conclude with Franz Schubert’s “Sonata in B flat major, op. posth., D. 960.” Schubert (1797-1828) composed a set of three sonatas during the last months of his life. His mature music is noted for its sudden “magical” harmonic shifts which suggest a sense of time coming to a standstill. The home key is juxtaposed against another, which is distant in tonality. The oscillations between two very different keys give the music a sense of detachment and evoke images of exile from home; some writers even suggest that it creates a feeling of entering into a new dimension, one of dreams and memories. The sonata is composed in four sections: 1 – Molto moderato, 2 – Andante sostenuto, 3 – Scherzo – Allegro vivace con delicatezza, 4 – Allegro, ma non troppo.

So far as is known, this will be the first time that a concert of classical music will have been performed by a world-class pianist on the island of Langkawi in northern Malaysia. The producers were nearly stumped by an unusual problem – the lack of an available piano. The problem has been solved by the purchase of a top-of-the line 21st Century digital piano from Yamaha that emulates the best of the traditional grand pianos but adds a number of additional features including the capacity to record music as it is played. It is claimed that the touch and sound of the piano equals the finest concert instruments. As Prof. Goldschneider noted, this may also be among the first times that a classical musician has performed a concert using this new technology.

A final note: the October 19th concert sold out on Langkawi 3 weeks before the date. Clearly, there is a real interest throughout Asia in Western classical music, even on this small Malaysian tourist resort island. It will be a rare treat to have the opportunity to hear Prof. Goldschneider live in concert. You can also listen to his many recordings on his website at Hear excerpts from Gary Goldschneider’s opera called “Call Me Ishmael” based on Melville’s epic novel Moby Dick on

For further information about Gary Goldschneider’s visit to Malaysia, visit or email

By Teviot Fairservis.


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People We Admire: Gary Goldschneider comes to Malaysia

A Dream Comes True — World Renowned Classical Pianist
GARY GOLDSCHNEIDER visits Langkawi in October

    Dinner and Music – Hosts Berthe and Gary Goldschneider invited Paul Penders, his daughter Katja (center), and wife Salina Abdullah for a very special and memorable evening in the Netherlands. Note the music scores behind them.
    There is a magical essence in the way that Gary plays. Sometimes he brought tears in my eyes, because the emotion he put in the music brought out so much…
    – Katja Penders

Would you fly across the world to go to a piano recital? Paul Penders did. Gary Goldschneider will. After hearing his music, maybe you will too.

Paul’s long-time dream is coming true. After hearing world class pianist Gary Goldschneider perform in Amsterdam, Paul dreamt of inviting him to Langkawi island in Malaysia. Bringing the beauty of Western classical music to meet this exceptionally beautiful place in Asia seems like a perfect marriage.

This small rainforest island in the Andaman Sea near the border with Thailand provides many treats for its approx. 70,000 residents and several million visitors. But so far as anyone can tell, this is the very first time that there has been a recital of Western classical music.

Another first among several – it will be the first time that this much-traveled concert pianist has ever visited Asia. It is our hope that this is just the first of many visits!

Should you be in Langkawi, Malaysia on October 19th, please let us know. Gary Goldschneider will perform Friday evening at the Westin Langkawi Resort. The program will be a benefit for the Charity Club Langkawi and proceeds will go to support underprivileged youth who could not otherwise continue tertiary education.

And if you would just like to relax and dream yourself, please visit Gary’s website at to listen to some truly lovely classical music. For further information about Professor Goldschneider’s visit to Malaysia, visit or write

By Teviot Fairservis.


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Sometimes ‘Giving Back’ Can Be Lots Of Fun!

The “Container House,” an eco-friendly building designed by Paul Penders

Sometimes “giving back” can actually be lots of fun! Paul Penders Company is always on the lookout for worthy projects to support, preferring ones that are directly verifiable and make a real difference to a community. We take the concept of “CSR” (corporate social responsibility) very seriously but we also like to have fun!

That’s why Paul Penders Company has decided to dedicate the recently completed “Container House” as a new home for not-for-profit activities on the island of Langkawi. Built from 17 shipping containers and designed by Paul, the house overlooks a spectacular harbor view and holds both large meeting rooms, exercise areas, a near-professional kitchen, and apartments upstairs. It can be a great home for cultural and educational activities and events.

This beautiful tropical island is so filled with a rich biodiversity of plants and animals that UNESCO has designated it a “Geopark,” the first in Malaysia. To the many natural attractions, with the growth of tourism, there is also a growing cultural life. Container House has the potential to become a great addition to the scene, where island visitors and residents alike can gather for educational and cultural programs.

A wonderful team of volunteers from the island and as far away as Spain, Scotland, and Belgium worked for more than a month to prepare the Container House for its first event.

In June, Paul, Bas, and I all attended the “Launch” of an exciting new project to take place at Container House. Called “REVITACURA,” it is the brainchild of Captain Eva Zimmermann. At the open house party, presentations explained this new program will help people lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Chef Jez, an expert on preparing wonderful raw foods specialties, with the help of lots of volunteers turned out a spectacular healthy lunch. Presentations about the plans for Revitacura and the need to address the growing problems with obesity and overweight were highlights of the day. It was truly a day to celebrate!

Capt. Eva Zimmermann skippers the Damai Indah cruises and makes every trip a celebration!

Capt. Eva is deeply concerned about the health of young people here in Asia. She knows what a poor diet can do. For years, she suffered from joint pains, fatigue and other symptoms. It wasn’t until she and her husband Gerd embarked on a 5-year cruise around the world’s oceans that she learned the benefits of eating fresh, raw foods. She recovered her health and is now one of the most energetic and enthusiastic people you could ever meet. We’ve cruised with her on her lovely wooden ships imported from Indonesia that ply Langkawi’s waters and helped her in her captain’s role bless honeymooners with rose petals.

One of the first Revitacura projects to take place at Container House will be “break the fast” dinners for the month of Ramadhan, an important holiday in Malaysia which falls this year from July 21st to August 19th. With the guidance of medical doctor and herbal expert Dr. Ghani and others, plans are underway to create healthy recipes based on traditional Malaysian foods. The dinners will also include educational lectures for Muslims and non-Muslims alike on how best to fast and stay healthy.

Pretty soon it looks like the Container House is going to be jumping with diet and exercise classes, meditation groups, and volunteers working to grow natural foods in the gardens, learning how to prepare healthy meals and to compost. Arts and cultural programs are also in the works to feed the mind as well as the body, and environmental awareness programs to inspire people to give back to our beautiful island and the planet.

All this fun stuff will be going on just steps away from the main Langkawi island offices of the Paul Penders Company.

Other “CSR” projects that the company continues to support on Langkawi include a vegetarian restaurant where the needy can eat for free and an animal clinic that offers free spay and neutering for island animals. Over on Penang island, we support an organization that cares for stray dogs, a huge problem throughout Asia. Combining education, arts and culture, we plan to host a visit this September by the distinguished American classical pianist, Gary Goldschneider. Island musicians and music lovers will get to meet him personally at the Container House – a rare treat to meet a world class performer!

As our website says, “Paul Penders Company is doing something that also makes a real difference, and, in our immediate community.”

By Teviot Fairservis.


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