Indonesian Gamelan Comes to Goleta
By Robert Bernstein
Gamelan Sinar Surya – Friends of the Goleta Library – 23 February 2020
Gamelan Sinar Surya is a Santa Barbara-based music ensemble that has been performing Indonesian Gamelan music since 2002. They performed for Friends of the Goleta Library at a packed Sunday afternoon concert. Here are all of my videos and photos.
Thanks to Corinne Horowitz for her heroic efforts on behalf of Friends of the Goleta Library to provide community services at the library, especially for children. Here Corinne introduced the event:
Richard North is the director of Gamelan Sinar Surya and has made numerous visits to Indonesia since 1976 to study, teach and perform traditional Gamelan music.
Indonesia has over 17,000 islands, though that number varies with different estimates. But over half of Indonesia's 270 million people live on the island of Java, where the capital of Jakarta is located. Java is about the size of California.
There are many distinct regional styles of Gamelan. The music performed in this concert was from the ancient kingdom of Cirebon, in the Indonesian province of West Java.
Richard North has actually brought back to Indonesia old pieces and traditional forms of music that had been lost in Cirebon.
He gave this brief introduction:
The first piece performed was was from the royal courts of West Java in the 19th century. The title was Jipang Lontang in the Degung style.
The second piece was meant as a contrast to this style. It was in an ancient "village" style of Gamelan,and it is more energetic and even raucous. The title was Bale Bandung in the Gong Renteng style.
The group alternated between these calm and courtly pieces and these energetic village pieces.
But then we were treated to two Cirebon Mask Dances. The first was performed by Anna Schatz and was meant to be coy and flirtatious. The title was Topeng Samba. Richard North noted that the dancer actually sets the tempo and the musicians follow her. Anna Schatz explained to me that the music is in a repetitive cycle. She is free to enter the dance at any point where the cycle begins anew.
The second Mask Dance was performed by Noah Malik and had a very different feel. He played the role of a tyrannical king who was very selfish and narcissistic. This brought laughter and comments from the audience. Richard North laughed and said he would refrain from any political comments!
The title of this piece was Topeng KelanaThe audience was very attentive and grateful for this opportunity to hear Gamelan music here in Goleta.
Here is the full playlist of the videos:
Here is the website of Gamelan Sinar Surya: http://www.gamelansb.com/
And you can also find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/gamelansinarsurya/
And here is the website for Friends of the Goleta Library where you can also donate to support their work: https://www.friendsofthegoletavalleylibrary.org/