May. 13, 2013 by Olivia Drake
The Center for the Arts hosted the Indonesian Performing Arts and Public Life Symposium April 25-27 in World Music Hall.
Indonesian wayang (puppet play), dance, and gamelan (an orchestra of bronze gongs, xylophones, drums, and string instruments) have been part of American public life since the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. Alongside the burgeoning of ethnomusicology, the 1960s marked the spread of gamelan study and performances on American campuses.
The symposium included several discussions, demonstrations and performances by Wesleyan faculty and guests including, from left, Kathy Foley, professor of theater arts at U.C. Santa Cruz and a fellow at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University in 2012-13; Sarah Weiss, associate professor of ethnomusicology at Yale University; Sumarsam, University Professor of Music and Ronald Jenkins, professor of theater. In addition, I.M. Harjito, artist-in-residence, co-directed a Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble performance.
A gamelan (orchestra), using various combinations of instruments, is traditionally and essentially accompaniment to
puppet shows, dances, feasts, and ceremonies in Java. Most of the instruments are bronze: tuned gongs, suspended
vertically or horizontally; and instruments with tuned keys, suspended over tubular resonators or a resonant cavity
in the base of the instrument
The tale of “Birth of Hanuman or the Eight-sided Diamond Case” shows the high gods of the universe playing peeping Toms.
The event was sponsored by Wesleyan’s Music and Public Life program. (Photos by Dat Vu ’15 and Hannah Norman ’16)