I spent last weekend (28-29 November) in Manchester, attending a wonderful weekend of gamelan-related events at the Royal Northern College of Music. The event launched the RNCNM's beautiful new gamelan, purchased along with a brand-new set of shadow puppets and a very fancy-looking puppet screen.
I caught an early gamelan-inspired work by Lou Harrison, Suite for violin, piano and small orchestra played by the RNCM chamber orchestra; the second half of Birth, Death and Marriage: A Journey through life in Javanese Music and Poetry - a concert by the Southbank Gamelan Players featuring Ni Made Pujawati in two dances; the end piece of a degung concert by the University of Manchester/Hallé Gamelan Degung; a wonderful and inventive concert of new music for gamelan by Gamelan Sekar Petak from the University of York mc-ed by Neil Sorrell; and performances of youth groups of a shadow puppet Ramayana and a gamelan-accompanied dance drama.
What a treat!
I also performed a 2 hour 15 minute version of Kresna Denawa, with the full forces of the Southbank Gamelan Players accompanying.
My friend and former Naga Mas colleague Simon van der Walt (one of three Naga Mas-ers who came down from Glasgow for the event) wrote in his blog that:
'the wayang performance in English by Matthew Isaac Cohen [...] was more than anything else what I had come to Manchester to see. I've seen wayang in Indonesia, but the language barrier is really quite steep, and it's a big part of what's going on; from high-flown court Javanese to crude street slang, its a form which traverses a great range of linguistic and performative registers. Matthew and the South Bank Players have done a number of wayang recently, and this is the first chance I've been able to see them. It seems to me they are doing a fantastic job of translating waying into a shorter form in a different language, making it understandable and enjoyable to UK audiences while retaining a great deal of honesty to the original. Matthew has a great sense of humour, which was on this occasion slighly lost on a noisy audience in a reverberant space. I look forward to seeing him perform again' (http://theplugboard.blogspot.com/2009/11/gamelan-weekend-at-rncm-saturday.html).
Didn't manage to get any pictures of the event though...