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Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival 199’1 Jody Diamond with Epilogue by Sutanto “Gamelanis a spirit, not an object,”says Sapto Raharjo, “the instruments are just the medium.” His definition of gamelan is a significant extension of the usual “gong-chime orchestra that originates in the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali.”As the director of the Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival,Sapto has made quite an impact on the definition of gamelan, both in Indonesia and abroad. He envisions a world of “gamelan lovers” at an annual international gathering of gamelan groups coming together to share music and ideas, to play together and to recognize each other’s presence in the development of the global gamelan tradition [l].For Sapto and those who work with him, gamelan is notjust a set of instruments , but a musical world that encompasses tools, musical structures, social processes and spiritual sensibilities. In much the same way that theJavanese gamelan unites disparate timbral elements into a sumptuous orchestration of elegantly organized sound, Sapto uses this festival to present gamelan as a conceptual domain in which we can create the future by building on the past, honoring the origins of gamelan while we expand its horizons. val was held from 2-6 July 1997as part of the month-long YogyakartaArts Festival , an annual province-wide event in Yogyakarta, a cultural center of Central Java and the 13,000 islands that comprise the nation of Indonesia itself. More than 24 different groups performed on fivesuccessive nights, showcasing the compositional and musical talents of artists from the United States, the Netherlands, France, Australia, Singapore and many cities in Indonesia : Medan and Padang Panjang in This year’sYogyakarta Gamelan FestiSumatra ;Jakarta, Bandung, Surakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya on the island ofJava; and Palu in Central Sulawesi. Meetings and seminars were held during the day, allowing for more intellectual interaction on topics such as hybrid music for gamelan (the subject of a presentation by Sumarsam of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut) and composition for gamelan by non-Indonesian groups (about which I gave a presentation). Plans were also made for 1999 hosting of the meeting of the Asian Composers League by the newly formed AKI (Indonesian ComposersAssociation). The festival was held at an open-air stage located on the campus of Gadjah Mada University,whose student body is one of the largest and most diverse in Indonesia. The students and members of Yogyakarta’s thriving arts community made for a very enthusiasticand responsive audience. In fact, the degree of reaction during a performance by the Dutch gamelan group Ensemble Gending causedJurrien Sligter, director of the group, to comment to the crowd, “Never have we received such a response from an audience, both positive and negative. It is amazing!” The concert program this year was notable for its large number of collaborations . These brought together artists from different Indonesian regions as well as fostering several international partnerships. Some of these collaborations were intimate, consisting of programs by a small number of musicians. Sapto himself was involved in two of these: a duet that combined his computer -driven gamelan samples with the vast percussion resources of theJakartabased drummer Innisisri, and a set with French vibraphonist Alex Grillo in which Sapto played drums along with an excellent group of young gamelan musicians with whom he frequently performs and records. The Trio Madois, made up of Margaret Bradley and Ismet (both from Sydney,Australia) and Dody Satya Ekagustiman (from Bandung), combined flute, kecqbi (a horizontal zither), voice and percussion in several songs. Slamet Sjukur presented a somewhat long-distance collaboration, bringing a large youth chorus from Surabaya to perform a piece by German composer Dieter Mack. An American musician named Sathya Burchman gathered his fellow students from the Yogyanese arts institution IS1 (Indonesian Institute of the Arts) tojoin him in a new work for the occasion. sionist and arts activist from Medan, worked together with me, using gamelan instruments and the Sumatrantuned drums called tuguningto present a program of duets that focused more on the interaction between players than on the instruments, particularly in a set of game pieces by Krystyna Bobrowski titled Yellorui.‘lOlOer Burial. In the last movement of this piece, one performer slowly plays a...


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