You may or may not know that I’ve been playing gamelan for several years now. You may or may not know what gamelan music is….
Gamelan is an Indonesian percussion ensemble that comes in two varieties, Balinese and Javanese. Our group, Gamelan Kusuma Laras, is Javanese and specializes in music specifically from Solo, one of the cities in Central Java. Javanese gamelan music is rich, dense, polyphonic, precise, meditative, quite exotic. There’s also a fair amount of singing, for solo voice and choruses, but the singing is part of the orchestral blend, not front and center the way it is in a lot of Western vocal music. Hearing recordings of gamelan music, it’s almost impossible to imagine how it is produced. Seeing the various instruments and how they’re played is a treat in itself.
Gamelan is definitely not for everyone. But if you’re curious about music from other cultures or know a little bit about gamelan, this would be a great opportunity to experience the music live.
The concert is about two hours long and is preceded by 15 minutes of “welcoming music.” The
program includes a bunch of unusually intricate and cool pieces, and I’m delighted that I’ll be playing on all the pieces we’re playing. One of the guest vocalists will be the extraordinary Jessika Kenney, and we will also be joined by a terrific dancer performing in full makeup and costume.
The concert takes place at the Indonesian Consulate, a beautiful old New York mansion at 5 E. 68th Street. At intermission, very delicious Javanese snacks will be served free of charge. And the tickets are only $20. (You can buy them online here.) Check it out and let me know what you think.