Javanese master musician Aloysius Suwardi makes a rare American appearance in Portland with Lewis & Clark College's Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan Ensemble, renowned Berkeley-based Javanese teacher and musician Midiyanto and guest artists from Seattle's Gamelan Pacifica.|
One of Asia's most renowned traditional musicians will join one of Oregon's most acclaimed world music ensembles on November 10 in a special concert at Lewis & Clark College. Suwardi will perform his original compositions and traditional Indonesian music for gamelan, the famous orchestra composed primarily of percussion instruments, with Venerable Showers of Beauty, a community ensemble that has been based at Lewis & Clark since 1980.
For this special performance, the Portland ensemble will also be directed by one of the world's greatest Javanese musicians, Midiyanto, who teaches gamelan at the University of California at Berkeley and two of America's finest gamelan musicians, singer Jessika Kenney and multi instrumentalist Jesse Snyder.
While VSB often performs traditional gamelan music at Portland festivals and venues (including this summer at Art in the Pearl, NoFest, and PSU Farmers Market), this collaboration with a distinguished Indonesian musician, made possible by a grant from Regional Arts and Culture Council, gives Oregon audiences a rare opportunity to hear the state of the art of one of the world's greatest musical traditions.
Along with the sensuous, beautiful music of gongs and other percussion instruments, voices strings, flute, and more, the concert offers a visual treat: the musicians will play handsome, century old bronze instruments handmade in Java.
Now Senior Lecturer at Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI) Surakarta, Suwardi has been a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in the U.S., teaching at Oberlin College and the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin. He has also taught at universities in Canada and Australia. Suwardi has developed a fine reputation as a composer, gamelan teacher, gamelan player (both traditional and contemporary), gamelan tuner and restorer, and experimental instrument maker. It is not surprising that he is often referred to as "a man of many talents." As a composer, Suwardi is best known for his works that make use of his own experimental instruments. His compositions have been performed in many different cities in the world, participating in new music festivals such as: the Indonesian-American Cultural Exhibition in the U.S. and Canada; the First International Music Festival in Samarqand, Uzbekistan; the Asian-Composers League in Bangkok, Thailand; the Island to Island Festival in London, U.K; the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa; the International Gamelan Festival in Amsterdam, Holland; Art Summit Indonesia III, and many others. He has also presented papers at a number of conferences.
A puppet master (dhalang) from Wonogiri, Central Java, Midiyanto comes from a distinguished family of musicians and artists. Over the last 20 years he has taught and performed extensively in Java, the U.S., Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, including ten years in Portland, as the gamelan director at Lewis & Clark College. In addition to directing the UC Berkeley gamelan ensemble, Midiyanto has worked with the Portland ensemble as a visiting director since 2002.
About Venerable Showers of Beauty.
The VSB gamelan ensemble has presented hundreds of events throughout the Northwest in its three decades in Portland, many including dance or traditional Javanese puppetry (wayang kulit). Up to 30 performers play and sing in concerts, including students and community members from the Portland area. Its repertoire includes traditional and contemporary music in a variety of styles, ranging from poetic songs to ceremonial court repertoire, from quiet, meditative pieces to stirring battle music. Musicians observe traditional playing style: seated on the floor, wearing colorful Indonesian batik costumes. The beauty of the bronze instruments, hand-crafted in Java and most set in colorful, ornately carved teak cases, complements their ravishing sound. Hand made by traditional craftsmen Central Java, Indonesia, the historic set includes about 60 instruments. Some of these beautiful instruments, including the great gong, are over a century old and true Portland treasures.
Evans Auditorium at Lewis and Clark College (View)
0615 SW Palatine Hill Road
Portland, OR 97219
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