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.

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