Gamelan Sekar Jaya, a Bay Area-based professional ensemble dedicated to the music of Bali, will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center. Courtesy photo


Music of Bali to waft through Mondavi Center

By From page A9 | May 18, 2012

Just the ticket

What: Gamelan Sekar Jaya

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis

Tickets: $20 general, $8 students; www.mondaviarts.org, (530) 754-2787

Musicians from the Gamelan Sekar Jaya — a Bay Area-based professional ensemble dedicated to the music of Bali — and members of the UC Davis Gamelan Ensemble will perform a program of music with Indonesian roots at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Mondavi Center.

The program will begin outdoors, with a performance of a kecak piece in the Corin Courtyard just outside the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre. Kecak performances typically involve a group of men (often shirtless, and wearing white-and-black checked fabric around their waists) chanting loudly together. There are many variations, but a kecak performance typically draws on some portion of Hindu mythology, with characters including demons and monkeys.

Afterward, the audience will move inside the Studio Theatre for the premiere of a new piece by I Dewa Put Berata, titled “Kelenguan,” or “Swept Away by Beauty.” According to Dewa Berata, “this piece explores not only what we can create as ‘individuals,’ but the beauty and complexity of what is created when we bring ourselves together. A rich range of rhythms, melodies, tempi and structures explores the layering and intertwining of the sounds of the ensemble — creating unity out of many kinds of beauty.”

There also will be a more traditional piece, “Legong Pengeleb,”  which was reconstructed in 2010 after almost being lost from Bali’s live performance repertoire,  in part because it was rarely performed due to the difficult nature of the piece.

“Pengeleb” refers to “setting free.” It was created in the early 20th century as Indonesian resistance to Dutch occupation was growing. The choreography and music are delicate and lyrical, drawing the spirits of both the human and the natural world in what is one of the hallmarks of Balinese artistic genius.

Participating performers in the evening will include Dewa Berata — founder of Gamelan Çudamani, an Indonesian ensemble that has performed twice at the Mondavi Center — and Emiko Saraswati Susilo, a dancer, singer and musician who is associate director of Gamelan Çudamani. They are both serving as guest artists with Gamelan Sekar Jaya.

Gamelan music typically features a host of mallet instruments — sets of metal or wooden bars that resonate when struck, as well as kettle-like objects and gongs. Gamelan music has attracted a growing international following and is now part of the music curriculum at many Western universities.

Tickets are $20 general, $8 for students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or (530) 754-2787. This concert is sponsored by the UC Davis music department.

Jeff Hudson

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