Friday, April 29, 2011

Livestreaming of the Bandung Wayang Festival 2011

Learned today via the gamelan list that the Bandung Wayang Festival 2011 was being streamed live. I caught the end of a Wayang Klithik performance and also Wayang Kartun from Yogyakarta. I found it quite odd taking notes on a wayang by typing at my desktop computer and taking screen shots. But how else to document the show? Though I requested via a live comment section on the webpage ( that the performance be posted on youtube, there is no guarantee that it will be. Such as the world of technology we inhabit.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bagpipes and Gamelan

Rehearsing now for a wayang with Gamelan Madu Sari, Vancouver's Javanese gamelan group, for Gong! Vancouver Gamelan Festival, which celebrates 25 years of gamelan in Vancouver (Canada). Madu Sari is also busy rehearsing for a concert of new music for the gamelan written by group members. One of the most interesting pieces on this programme is Beledrone, composed by Madu Sari member Michael O’Neill, who features as bagpipe soloist.

Bagpipes and gamelan have a strange affinity, and there have been a number of noteworthy cross-overs in recent years, including a composition by Wesleyan facutly member I.M. Harjito, and a collaboration between Scottish piper Barnaby Brown and Gamelan Naga Mas.

Would be interesting to investigate this phenomenon of gamelan/bagpipe fusion more, perhaps....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wayan Sadra, RIP

While checking email on board a ferry from Victoria to Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada), sitting next to Pak Sutrisno Hartana, I received an FB message from the ASTI/STSI/ISI Surakarta alumni mailing list that the great gamelan composer I Wayan Sadra passed away today at 12.05 am in the RS Muwardi Surakarta.

I actually stayed very briefly in Sadra's house during my first weeks in Indonesia in 1988 - at the time he was renting out a few rooms at the back, and AL Suwardi arranged for me stay in one of them. I had little notion at the time that I was staying in the house of one of Indonesia's most important experimental composers, responsible for developing whole new ways of conceiving gamelan.

The loss of this major figure in Indonesian arts will be felt by many.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Indonesian Arts in Victoria

I am visiting Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, for a couple of days prior to a performance with Gamelan Madu Sari in Vancouver, and staying at the house of Sutrisno Hartana, a very talented gamelan musician and amateur dalang, who has lived in British Columbia on-and-off since the 1990s.

Sutrisno worked at the consultate in Vancouver for a couple of years in the mid-1990s and in 2004 returned to BC to do a Masters in Ethnomusicology with Michael Tenzer (on gamelan in the Pakualaman court) and then continued on to do a PhD at the University of Victoria dealing with wayang kulit and gamelan outside of Indonesia (working with Michael Bodden and Astri Wright, among others).

Sutrisno's wife Anis is a pesinden and holds a D3 from ASTI Yogya in Karawitan. She worked in the bagian teknis pertunjukan at Taman Budaya Yogyakarta until the family's move to Canada in 2004. Pak Tris, Ibu Anis and their two daughters (Lulu aged 12 and Ayun aged 16) often perform small gamelan concerts on instruments borrowed from the consulate. To make ends meet, Sutrisno also teaches a number of gamelan groups in Victoria and Vancouver, and Anis has a small catering business that provides meals to Indonesian cruise ship workers when they dock in Victoria. This, it was explained to me, was seasonal work - about 3-5 cruise ships dock weekly in Victoria circa May-September on their way from Seattle to Alaska, many of them manned by Indonesians who 'rindu' their native cuisine.

It has been an interesting visit here so far. Not only is Pak Tris is a VERY talented musician and rehearsing for the wayang with him has been good and productive, he is as interested in my practice as a 'dalang mancanegara' as I am in his own situation. He is pumping me with questions relevant to his PhD thesis even as I am observing his own work and family life. Needless to say, the food is good too.