Gamelan Sekar Jaya
March 11, 3:00, Berger Center, $25
A unique opportunity to learn about and experience a new type of music. This 20-member ensemble of dancers and musicians tell the history and culture of Indonesia, inviting the audience members to participate. Gemelan Sekar Jaya is the premiere, award-winning, gamelan orchestra outside of Indonesia. An ensemble member has Oakmont parents.
Founded in Berkeley,1979, Gamelan Sekar Jaya (GSJ) was the first community-based Balinese gamelan in the United States. Indonesia’s Tempo magazine calls this group “the finest Balinese gamelan ensemble outside of Indonesia.”
Gamelan refers to several types of musical ensembles or orchestras. Music often begins with the action of a hammer (gamel.) The unique music comes from percussion instruments: gong-chimes (which look like upturned bronze pots,) metallophones (xylophones with metal, rather than wooden, keys) and deeply resonant gongs made of bronze, iron, wood, and/or bamboo. This type of music is found throughout the Indonesian islands of Bali and Java.
The musical tradition of gamelan appears to be an almost entirely indigenous development, and it is thought that the gongs and metallophones predate the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms founded in the seventh century.
The name “Sekar Jaya” translates to “Victorious Flower.” In the Bay Area, Sekar Jaya has long been part of the arts scene, performing on its own and in collaboration with an array of arts organizations. But its status in Bali is hard to exaggerate. The premiere gamelan orchestra outside of Indonesia, Sekar Jaya is the only foreign group ever presented with the Dharma Kusuma, Bali’s highest award for artistic achievement.