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Gamelan Masters Guest Lecture Series

Every Sunday & Wednesday Nusantara Arts is inviting gamelan masters and related scholars to join us for guest lectures on various topics related to Javanese gamelan music making and Indonesian culture. These lectures are designed to be enjoyed by anyone in the world with an interest in gamelan.  Participants will have a deeper appreciation and learn more about the culture and practice of gamelan. We are doing this as a way for the gamelan community to connect, learn, and continue our appreciation during this covid crisis. Anyone is welcome.

Every Sunday and Wednesday at 7:30pm EST: 

All lectures are recorded and uploaded to YouTube and hosted below

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 871 7405 5741
Password: 401313

Nusantara Arts Gamelan Preservation “Artist to Artist”

One of Nusantara Arts core values is “Preservation”. This Covid epidemic is taking a toll on our musical mentors and cultural beacons on Java who are the ever lit flame that keep the gamelan culture alive. We are taking donations during the lecture series to give to Javanese musicians who are currently facing serious economic hardships due to COVID. A suggested donation of $10 per lecture will be greatly appreciated and remembered by these musicians

Nusantara Arts Gamelan Masters Guest Lecture Series donations are distributed to the most needy musicians and singers in the greater Solo area, including Karanganyar, Klaten, Wonogiri, Sukoharjo, Sragen, and Boyolali.”, who tend to be musicians with no official governmental status. Kitsie Emerson and Pak Wakidi are deeply embedded in the community of musicians on Java and will be helping us distribute the funds. Last month they distributed some 60 envelopes (totaling over $3000) to musicians who had attended the monthly event known as Pujangga Laras over the past year, at the request of the official Pujangga Laras organizers. For the Nusantara Arts donations, the plan is to widen the reach and contribute to musicians both inside and outside the Pujangga Laras circle.

Donate using the Form Below

Javanese Musician Profiles

Your donations to the Nusantara Arts Gamelan Preservation Fund will go to musicians like this!

Ibu Kris Pringgo – A renowned gender player from Klaten, Bu Pringgo lives in Solo-proper now and relies on small performance opportunities as well as the musical activities of her sons. With covid-19, all members of family have not worked since 1 March 2020. Bu Pringgo has played for numerous dhalang in her career, as well as being a gender player for klenengan. She most recently retired from a 10-year stint as the gender player for Ki Manteb Soedharsono. Many foriegn students have benefitted from listening to and recording her beautiful and unique gender playing, which is an eclectic mix of village-style and court-style playing. 

Bp Karno – Bp Karno, born with an amazing ear and skillful hands but no sight, is an official musical “servant” (abdi dalem) of the Solo palace, the Keraton Surakarta Hadiningrat. He is the most knowledgeable and experienced drummer for Keraton Solo bedhayan alive, and is also an excellent gender player. He has dedicated his life to the Solo palace, and is “paid” in return with a very small remittance on occasion, as well as the spiritual well-being and sense of peace that he believes to come from this association. But Bp Karno relies on his attendance at Pujangga Laras and other klenengan events for his livelihood, and that has completely disappeared at this point.

Upcoming Lectures

Wed 7/1 – Dewa Ayu Eka Putri and Putu Tangkas Adi Hiranmayena “Creating Tari Kreasi “LAKU” Across Oceans” Description: Indonesian artist scholars, Ayu Eka and Putu Tangkas discusses the process of creating their latest collaborative dance piece for Balinese gamelan, Tari Kreasi “Laku.” In doing so, highlighting the concepts of the piece as they pertain to social mobility in Colorado and Bali.

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Sun 7/5 – Vaughan Hatch and Putu Evie “Bring Back Bali” – Caring for the Arts and the Environment through Mekar Bhuana Family Based Centre”  – A frank discussion about the role that music and dance studios (sanggar) can play in creating environment friendly alternatives to single-use plastic in everyday life in Bali, particularly at ceremonies, practices and performances. With the aim of inspiring others, Mekar Bhuana Co-founders, Vaughan Hatch and Putu Evie will present the solutions they have come up with and how they apply these within their own family as well as teams of musicians and dancers. They will also discuss how foreign arts researchers, private students and study groups visiting Indonesia can make a positive difference.

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Sun 7/12 – Vaughan Hatch and Putu Evie – Nyejerang Swara – ‘Sustaining the Sacred Sounds of Selonding Selat’ – Through documentation of an critically endangered style of music from Selat Village in Karangasem, this short documentary film, produced by Mekar Bhuana Centre founders Vaughan Hatch and Putu Evie, looks at the disconnect between ritual symbolized by sacred music and an agrarian lifestyle that is no longer lived by most Balinese. On a global level Nyejerang Swara appeals to the international community to help recover lost repertoire through repatriation of recordings that are stored in overseas archives.

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Sun 7/19 – Emily Hansell Clark : The Javanese Gamelan in Suriname – Between 1890 and 1939, laborers from the Dutch East Indies were “recruited” by the colonial government to work on plantations in Suriname, the Netherlands’ much smaller colony on the Caribbean coast of South America, after slavery was abolished there. Today, a distinct gamelan tradition is practiced by ethnically Javanese people in Suriname and in Javanese-Surinamese communities in the Netherlands. In this lecture, I discuss my work with Javanese-Surinamese gamelan musicians and explore what it means to play and listen to a musical tradition that developed out of a colonial history.

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Past Lectures

#1 – Midiyanto – “Rasa: Javanese Gamelan in Cultural Context”

Famed puppet master and UC Berkeley Professor Midiyanto will be lecturing on the topis of “Rasa” one of the beautiful esoteric concepts of Javanese Gamelan.

#2 – Phil AcimovicWhat exactly is Palaran?

Rarely attempted in American gamelan performances, Phil will discuss this exciting and beautiful form that is a regular part of Solonese klenengan.

#3 – Peter Ludwig  –“A talk about gamelan makers in Solo, Central Java “

Peter is a Fellow at Yale’s Tropic Resource Institute and will speaking on his Thesis: Technology and Tradition in Java: Natural Resource Access and Innovation in the Gamelan Instrument Industry

#4 – Matt Dunning – Directors Talk “The Stirring of a Thousand Bells”

Join us with film director Matt Dunning as we watch his sensory ethnographic gamelan film “The Stirring of a Thousand Bells” Released by Sublime Frequencies (SF094), featuring a very rare type of gamelan, and a beautiful dance from the Mangkunegaran Palace. We will watch the films and have a discussion after.

#5 – Sumarsam – “The History of Gamelan”

Professor Sumarsam from Wesleyan University will give us the history and context of gamelan throughout the ages leading to a video about one of gamelans unique artforms called “Gift of the Wali: The Gamelan Sekaten in Central Java”followed by a discussion.

#6 – Alex Yoffe – “The Construction of a Gamelan Suite”

Alex from Friends of the Gamelan in Chicago will be discussing the various theories and possibilities when constructing gamelan suites out of multiple compositions

#7 – Darsono Hadiraharjo – “Lives in Karawitan” Darsono Hadiraharjo, a Visiting Critic with Cornell’s Southeast Asia Program, discusses the music and career paths of his parents, Bapak Saguh Hadi Raharjo and Ibu Panut, in conversation with Cornell Senior Lecturer Christopher J. Miller. Darono’s parent’s were members of some of the most famous and influential gamelan groups from the 60’s to 2000’s like Condhong Raos and, Ngripto Raras. Lecture complete with musical examples and personal stories.

#8 – Sutrisno Hartana – “Creativity in the Gamelan” As an experienced cross-cultural gamelan player, composer, teacher, and collaborator in this field, I have noted that creativity is needed in the gamelan practices. It is a unique musical capability that strongly help “my” (and perhaps also “your”) musical journeys…so lets share in this class then.

#9 – Chris Miller – “Perceptions of rhythm, form, and time in gamelan” – Senior Lecturer at Cornell, Chris Miller will give a thoughtful presentation on some of the building blocks of gamelan music

#10 – Steve Laronga – “Cultural and Musical Worlds of East Javanese ‘Jek Dong’ Shadow Puppetry” An overview of this lively East Javanese form of wayang kulit, in which traditional systems of apprenticeship and collective local sponsorship continue to strongly influence performance practices.

#11 – Kitsie Emerson – “Macapat and Vocal Forms in Gamelan” The rich vocal-music tradition within Javanese karawitan is often a mystery to beginners. Some of this mystery can be unlocked by understanding the category of sung poetry known as macapat, and how macapat are used every day in the performance tradition. Kitsie Emerson, who has lived in Java for almost 30 years studying karawitan and wayang kulit will give an introduction to macapat, using live examples from her and Pak Wakidi’s arts center in Solo.

#12 – Jessika Kenney – “Vocal Practices in Gamelan” Jessika Kenney is a composer, writer, and performer working from the experience of listening to voices and vocalized response. Jessika will give a workshop which draws on life-long interests, including singing with gamelan, to inspire others to create their own unique vocal practices while in and out of various degrees of quarantine.

#14 – Novyandi Saputra&Palmer Keen- Gamelan Worlds of South Kalimantan Banjarmasin-based ethnomusicologist Novyandi Saputra, MA will be joined by Aural Archipelago founder Palmer Keen to share to share their work on the gamelan worlds of South Kalimantan, from Novyandi’s lifelong immersion in the gamelan Banjar tradition to Palmer’s research on the ritual gamalan of the Dayak Halong.

#16 – Panakajaya Hidayatullah & Palmer Keen – Rare Gamelan of Madurese Horsehoe – Madurese ethnomusicologist Panakajaya Hidayatullah, MA will be joined by Aural Archipelago founder Palmer Keen in discussing their research and documentation of rare Madurese gamelan offshoots in the Madurese Horseshoe of East Java, including glundhangan, an all-wooden “gamelan for pigeons,” and dhungdhungan, an ensemble of tuned drums.

#17 Wayne Vitale & Pete Steele “Compositions of Dewa Alit Pt.1”

Since 2000, Dewa Alit (b. 1973) of Pengosekan, Bali, has earned appreciation at home and internationally as the composer of consistently demanding, exploratory and rigorously designed music. Because Alit attracts the best performers to join his gamelan groups, the music is also thrilling to hear. In this set of two back-to back lectures, four North American students of Alit and his music present-mini lectures on some of Alit’s major works that trace the arc of his career to the present.

Part 1. Wayne Vitale will speak on “Geregel” (2000) which used the newly-popular seven-tone gamelan semaradana to explore rhythms and tonalities unknown in Balinese music to then. Pete Steele will discuss “Caru Wara” (2006) for  the standard gamelan gong kebyar, which took Balinese rhythm to a still-higher level.