Eastman School of Music’s Gamelan Lila Muni, meaning “orchestra of heavenly sound,” will be showcasing a culmination of their year’s work on April 25 in Kilbourn Hall. This will be the last concert in Eastman’s World Music Series and will include special guest performances from Indonesian dancer Ni Luh Kadek Kusuma Dewi and Visiting Associate Professor of Gamelan I Nyoman Suadin.

“It really opens your mind,” doctoral student and member of Gamelan Lila Muni Sylvia Alajaji said. The concert will also feature performances by the Eastman Youth Gamelan from the Eastman Community Music School.

Gamelan Lila Muni is one of Eastman’s Balinese gamelan ensembles, consisting of students from both Eastman and the River Campus, Eastman faculty and members of the Rochester community. The ensemble members range in experience from one semester to eight years and from individuals who are classically trained musicians to first-time players. The ensemble meets on Saturdays and is open to students from both UR campuses and members of the Rochester community. The other two gamelans include Gamelan Kembang Salju and the Eastman Youth Gamelan. The Eastman Youth Gamelan is comprised of children from the Rochester community, ranging in age from 8 to 15.

Traditional dances in costume will be featured during Monday night’s concert, along with several contemporary instrumental pieces.

The ensemble has performed in several concerts throughout the year and worked toward this end-of-the-year performance, according to Alajaji. I Nyoman Suadin will be coming from Washington, D.C. where he has founded and directs Gamelan Mitra Kusuma, to perform with the ensemble. The latter portion of the concert will also include an opportunity for audience members to participate in a demonstration of gamelan music and performance.

Clay Greenberg is one of the course’s instructors and is assisted by Alajaji. Clay Greenberg has been studying Balinese music since he was 10 years old and has been involved with the ensemble for the past several years.

Alajaji is a doctoral candidate, writing her dissertation on Armenian music and identity in various diasporic communities. “[The gamelan] is so different from what [students of western music] do in day-to-day life,” Alajaji said. “It’s a really great experience.”

The word gamelan refers to the set of percussion instruments used and their players. The origins of this musical tradition stem from Indonesia and Southeast Asia, but gamelans can now be found in North America, South America and Australia.

Gamelan Lila Muni follows in the traditions of ensembles from the Indonesian island of Bali. Gamelan Kembang Salju is also another type of Balinese gamelan. Gongs, drums, metallophones and flutes are part of the instrumentation in the Balinese gamelan.

Unlike traditions in western music, this type of music does not rely on the use of notation and emphasizes learning music aurally. It was difficult for students who had received previous training in music to adjust to this new form of music, according to Alajaji. Those students who had little or no previous training had a different experience learning this style of music.

The concert will be a great opportunity for people to experience a unique form of music that is not easily found while searching through local radio stations or online radios.

Figueredo can be reached at ofigueredo@campustimes.org.



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