The Sounds of Bali Find an Audience in the United States

The floors of New York City’s music halls attain various states of cleanliness. Few ensembles are in a better position to observe them up close than the Balinese ensemble Gamelan Dharma Swara.

In an October performance at a West Village club, its musicians sat cross-legged behind an array of glittering bronze percussion instruments on the black basement floor, a linoleum surface one suspects began as some other color.
Pool-playing patrons sat next to more sober listeners on beer-stained sofas.
It might seem far from Bali in spirit, but the music’s spectacular brightness attracted a rogue dog, something you might encounter in any temple courtyard.
Home for Dharma Swara is not Indonesia itself, but rather its consulate in New York.
That converted town house has a basketball court’s worth of hardwood on which to rehearse. Membership in the group is open to anyone.
The set of instruments — gongs, xylophones, drums and flutes — accommodates about 20 players.
Some are Balinese, but most are not.
The ensemble serves both to promote Balinese music and dance and, in a practical sense, to support diplomatic events.
The performers are roving diplomats themselves.

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