Musicians celebrate 30 years of the Gamelan in the UK

Thirty years ago, the music department at the University of York took delivery of the UK’s first complete Javanese gamelan and to mark the occasion, musicians will take part in a unique event next month.

Gathering of the Gamelans will take place from April 26th-29th at the University of York Music Department, featuring a four-day symposium and free public event.

Gamelan players from across the UK will attend the Gamelan Sekar Petak‘s 30th Anniversary International Symposium for a series of workshops, seminars, discussions and performances.

It is open to anyone who plays the Indonesian set of instruments, or teaches and composes for the instrument.

The aim of the event is to develop the skills of musicians in performing the instrument, as well as in composition and pedagogy.

Topics include discussions on how to approach the gamelan and electronic music, new ways of teaching gamelan to early years pupils as well as university students, and composing music for Western instruments and the gamelan.

Workshops will focus on classical Javanese music and classical dance, while there will also be informal performances of experimental new works.

Renowned Indonesian gamelan performer, composer and innovator Bapak A L Suwardi will also attend the event as guest of honour.

While the gamelan is a popular musical instrument for teaching children of all ages, many people would not be able to identify it if they were asked. Seeking to rectify this and bring the instrument to a wider audience will be a free concert for the public on April 28th.

Matthew Cohen, a dhalang, or puppeteer in English, has written and performed a shadow puppet play, known as wayang kulit in Indonesian, will tell audiences about the story of Lokananta, the mythological first gamelan which was created by the gods.

Gamelan traditionally comprises metallophones, xylophones, drums, gongs, bamboo flutes and stringed instruments.

Have you ever tried to play? Are you a fan of Gamelan music? What other world music styles do you feel are under appreciated and should be made more visible and available?

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