Gamelan Kusuma Laras

Classical Javanese Orchestra Visits Hartwick Saturday, April 23

April 22, 2011

In a very special one-day event, the Hartwick College Department of Music and the Oneonta Concert Association will welcome Gamelan Kusuma Laras for a workshop and performance on April 23, 2011. The workshop will be held at 11 a.m. in the Music Circle of Anderson Center for the Arts on the Hartwick campus, with the performance to follow at 7:30 p.m. in the same location. Tickets for the workshop and performance are $10 (free for Hartwick students, faculty, and staff), and the public is invited to attend.

Gamelan Kusuma Laras, a classical Javanese gamelan orchestra based in New York City composed of American and Indonesian players, performs music from the classical repertoire of the courts of Central Java. Gamelan Kusuma Laras (GKL), formed 27 years ago to study and present Indonesian performing arts to American audiences, has entranced music and dance lovers in the Northeast and other parts of the U.S. and in Indonesia with its authentic performances on instruments created especially for the Indonesia Pavilion at the World's Fair of 1964-65 in Flushing, New York.

GKL features I.M. Harjito as its artistic director. Harjito is considered one of the finest Javanese musicians of his generation. A graduate of Indonesia's state conservatory for the traditional performing arts, Harjito has directed gamelan ensembles in Indonesia, the U.S., Canada, and Australia. He is also a composer of traditional and innovative works for gamelan and is a faculty member at Wesleyan University. 

Most of the instruments of the gamelan are made from cast bronze, and are either metallophones or hanging gongs and racked gongs, which look like small gongs lying on their backs. Gamelan music is an ensemble music, and the players and singers, despite their varied musical roles, must be sensitive to each other. There is no visible conductor, but the drum and bowed lute lead the ensemble with subtle aural cues. The "skeletal" melody of a gamelan composition is played by the metallophones, in unison. The hanging, pitched gongs punctuate this melody; the largest gong produces the deepest sound in the orchestra. The "elaborating" instruments, whose players are free to express their personal interpretations of the composition in their florid melodies, include a metallophone, a xylophone, the bowed lute, and a bamboo flute; singers join, as well.

The ensemble, which studies and performs at the Indonesian Consulate in Manhattan, has been active in the New York City cultural scene since its inception. It has performed at the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, Symphony Space, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Bard College, Vassar College, Wesleyan University, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Texas A&M University, Cooper Hewitt Museum, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival, and the Yogyakarta International Gamelan Festival, among others.

GKL has been presented in concert, featuring music, dance, and wayang (shadow play theatre), and has performed at receptions, openings, workshops, parties, and weddings.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030