Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gamelan at the annual Denpasar Arts Festival

The annual Denpasar Arts Festival draws thousands of visitors daily. The month-long program offers an abundance of dance, music, exhibitions and more. However for composers such as Yudane, the venue is difficult.

The artist’s fears that sound would escape from the pop music competition into the hall where his music, New Music for Gamelan, Water 1, and Water 7 along with Dewa Ketut Alit’s compositions, Cecanangan, Gending Pengenter Alit and Gen, performed by the extraordinary gamelan orchestras, Wrdhi Swaram and Gamelan Salukat, were well founded.

During Yudane’s works, rock beats played on electronic guitar leaked through the walls, confusing the audience.

It was not until the lyrics of next doors pop tunes also found their way into the orchestral performance that it was understood there was some very poor program planning impacting on audience appreciation of great music.

This problem was compounded by the audience’s constant entering and leaving of the auditorium and the never-ending ping of SMS and hand phones ringing.

During village gamelan performances it is common for people to chat, make phone calls, wander in and out of the listening circle and this relaxed appreciation of music has found its way into theater halls.

Yudane says he is not alone attempting to perform amid the cacophony of outside noise.

“Last year there was a classical French guitarist playing here — he also had a pop band playing right next door,” says a disappointed Yudane.

Despite his concerns over sound quality, the packed auditorium during the Denpasar Arts Festival’s performance should give this great composer heart.

Among the audience were teenagers, eyes glued to the stage and in awe of this man’s new music for gamelan.

These may be the very people who will one day follow Yudane’s footsteps, taking gamelan out of its traditional roots and introducing the new, ever more complex and brilliant notes of Indonesian music to the world.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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