Maho Ishiguro, an ethnomusicology doctoral student, received a Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship to study the female Saman dance in Indonesia. The award came with a $29,508 stipend.
Ishiguro’s proposed research title is “Saman Dance in Diaspora Presence of Female Saman Dance as Expressions of Piety Cultural Identity and Popular Culture.” Her DDRA project will examine the contemporary life of female Saman dance in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Banda Aceh.
Saman dance, or the dance of a “thousand hands” is typically performed in Gayo Lues, a mountainous region of Aceh, by eight to 20 male performers who kneel in a row and make different kinds of torso movements accompanied by songs, clapping hands, slapping chests or slapping the floor. The dance traditionally is performed to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad and has been used recently to promote Acehnese as well as Indonesia’s national culture.
“Indonesia’s deepening Islamization today impacts the nations’ performing arts and the conduct of Muslim women’s lives,” Ishiguro said. “In Aceh, despite its Islamic origin, female adults were prohibited from performing Saman dance at public events.
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Hankus Netsky Ph.D. ’04
Hankus Netsky, who received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan in 2004, has been chosen by the editorial staff of The Forward — a well-respected weekly newspaper covering the Jewish world — as one of the 50 American Jews who have had the greatest impact on the world in 2013, alongside the likes of Harvey Fierstein, Mandy Patinkin and Janet Yellen.
Netsky is the chair of the contemporary improvisation department at the New England Conservatory of Music. He has mentored countless young Jewish musicians, many of whom attended NEC primarily to study with him, and has guided jazz and classical instrumentalists as they expand and evolve the Jewish repertoire to coincide with modern times.
At a recent performance by superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman and cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Netsky was the less-visible but highly influential musical director.
The Forward refers to him as, “a quiet but powerful force affecting nearly every corner of contemporary Jewish music.”
Read more about Netsky in this New England Conservatory press release.
Ethnomusicologist Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, is the author of two new articles published in 2013.
“Past and Present Issues of Javanese-European Musical Hybridity,” was published in Recollecting Resonances: Indonesian-Dutch Musical Encounters by Leiden: Brill, pages 87-108.
Soon after the introduction of European music in Java in the 18th century, Java-European musical hybrids emerged. In his article Sumarsam asks the following questions: how do we explain the incorporation of European sounds into the indigenous gamelan ensemble? Is this incorporation a kind of Javanese-European intercultural sonic dialogue, a subversive act of European authority, or the domestication of an exotic sound? Sumarsam addresses these questions by examining the history and meaning of “marching gamelan pieces” in the court of Yogyakarta and other hybrid genres, the performance of which requires the inclusion of European brass bands and drums and other Western instruments.
“A Preliminary Report on Javanese Wayang and Islamic Dakwah,” was published in (Re)Producing Southeast Asian Performing Arts by Manila: Philippine Women’s University, pages 200-203.
In the preaching of Islam (dakwah), some preachers in Java incorporate wayang shadow puppet play to make their presentation more interesting and effective. In this regard, the Hindu story and characters are linked to Islam. To attract the audience further, the musical accompaniment for this play is a hybrid ensemble consisting of some indigenous gamelan instruments (traditional) and Western electric keyboard, guitars, and a drum sets (modern). The article addresses the dynamic hybridization of this wayang dakwah.
Ethnomusicologist Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, participated in a festival and conference on Indonesian performing arts at the Smithsonian Institution Oct. 31-Nov. 3. Sumarsam and Andy McGraw Ph.D. ’06 helped organize the conference, “Performing Indonesia: Conference, Music, Dance, and Drama” with support from the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Sumarsam delivered the conference’s keynote address on “Traditional Performing Arts of Indonesia in a Globalizing World” on Nov. 2. He discussed Javanese musical and cultural interactions with the rest of the world, focusing on current trends in and the changing role of classical and contemporary gamelan music and other genres in Indonesia and around the globe.
In addition, six Wesleyan alumni delivered paper presentations or chaired sessions at the event.
During the opening ceremony of the festival on Oct. 31, Sumarsam and Andy McGraw Ph.D. ’06 received a “Certificate of Appreciation” for their role in strengthening the ties of friendship between Indonesia and the U.S. The event was attended by the Indonesian Ambassador, the Smithsonian museum director, the Sultan of Yogyakarta, the Director General of Indonesian, Cultural Attache of Indonesia, and many others.
On Nov. 3, Sumarsam, Artist-in-Residence I.M. Harjito and members of the Wesleyan Gamelan participated in a “jam session” with gamelan teachers at the California Institute of the Arts, University of Michigan, U.C. Berkeley and other American gamelan teachers/musicians.
The Center for the Arts presented the 37th annual Navaratri Festival, celebrating the traditional culture of India with performances by some of the country’s leading artists on Oct. 10-13. One of India’s major festival celebrations, Navaratri is a time to see family and friends, enjoy music and dance, and seek blessings for new endeavors.
“For us Indian musicians traveling all over the world and especially in the U.S., this campus has been a place of great respect and wonder because of its ability to sustain this program for over 30 years,” said tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, who also performed during the 2010 festival. “It is a privilege and a blessing to be a part of this incredible environment.”
The 37th annual Navaratri Festival was supported by the Music Department, the Center for the Arts, the Jon B. Higgins Memorial Fund, the Madhu Reddy Endowed Fund for Indian Music and Dance at Wesleyan University, the Raga Club of Connecticut, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Middlesex Community College, Haveli Indian Restaurant and individual patrons.
On Oct. 11, vocalist B. Balasubrahmaniyan, adjunct assistant professor of music, performed “Vocal Music of South India” as part of the festival.
Balasubrahmaniyan was joined by David Nelson, adjunct assistant professor of music on mridangam and violinist L. Ramakrishnan and Sriram Ramesh on kanjira.
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New book by Sumarsam.
Sumarsam, the University Professor of Music, is the author of Javanese Gamelan and the West, published by the University of Rochester Press on July 1.
In Javanese Gamelan, Sumarsam examines the meaning, forms and traditions of the Javanese performing arts as they developed and changed through their contact with Western culture. The book traces the adaptations in gamelan art as a result of Western colonialism in 19th century Java, showing how Western musical and dramatic practices were domesticated by Javanese performers creating hybrid Javanese-Western art forms, such as with the introduction of brass bands in gendhing mares court music and West Javanese tanjidor, and Western theatrical idioms in contemporary wayang puppet plays.
The book also examines the presentation of Javanese gamelan to the West, detailing performances in World’s Fairs and American academia and considering its influence on Western performing arts and musical and performance studies. The end result is a comprehensive treatment of the formation of modern Javanese gamelan and a fascinating look at how an art form dramatizes changes and developments in a culture.
As a gamelan musician and a keen amateur dhalang/ (puppeteer) of Javanese wayang puppet play, Sumarsam performs, conducts workshops, and lectures throughout the U.S., Australia, Europe and Asia.
Jorge Arévalo Mateus Ph.D. ’12
An audio-archive project managed by Jorge Arévalo Mateus PhD ’12 will be available to the general public in the United States and the Dominican Republic in 2013. The project, “The Sacred and Festive Music of the Liboristas Communities of the Dominican Southwest,” contains 32 hours of field recordings gathered between 2001 and 2004.
With support from the GRAMMY Foundation® in the category “Preservation and Archive,” Arévalo Mateus digitally preserved music audio recordings captured in rural areas of the Dominican Republic preserving more than 20 genres. The result is the first archive documenting the different genres of music played at Liboristas communities including sacred and festive accordion genres; a percussion genre; an a capella religious genre; and others.
The archive also includes interviews about the religious continuity of the two Liboristas movements, one started in 1908 by Liborio Mateo, and the other in 1961 by Leon and Romilio Ventura. The interviews include personal histories of religious leaders and missionaries from the last 50 years, the birth of a new leader missionary, the birth of a new musician in one of the communities, and the tracking of the celebrations calendar during the years.
“The archive will have an impact for the Dominican ethnomusicology, popular religion, oral traditions and historical studies,” Arévalo Mateus said.
On Dec. 13, 2012, Arévalo Mateus completed his ethnomusicology PhD dissertation on “Somos Colombianos en Nueva York/We are Colombians in New York City, An Ethnography of a Colombian Musicians Community, 1995-2010.” He will attend the Wesleyan Commencement Ceremony in May 2013.
To help the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan, Wesleyan graduate students Maho Ishiguro, Akiko Hakateyama, Ellen Loeck and Shoko Yamamoto arranged a benefit concert titled “Voices United.” Students and faculty from Wesleyan’s music department, and resident performers from the Middletown area, assembled at Crowell Concert Hall for an afternoon of music and dance performances.
The concert was filmed and will be available on DVD this month.
Eleven performances, which included different genres of music from 10 countries, were featured. Participating ensembles and musicians included Chinese Ensemble, Balinese Gender Ensemble, Carnatic Music Ensemble (Indian vocals), The Mixolydians (vocal ensemble singing Rennaisance madrigals), Slavei (vocal ensemble singing folk music from Eastern Europe), Collegium Musicum (vocal ensemble singing music from Medieval and Rennaisance periods), Kaze Taiko Ensemble, Ceol go Maidin (Irish traditional music), Green Street’s Fresh Obsessed (Breakdancing group), Andrew Colwell Mongolian Homii (Mongolian throat singer), and House of Moses (R&B music).
To order a copy of the DVD, send $15 to Jody Cormack, World Music Archives, Olin Library 252 Church Street, Middletown, CT 06459. Make checks out to The Japan Society New York, and write “Japan Earthquake Fund” in the memo. All proceeds go to the Japan Society where donations will be divided and sent to a number of relief agencies.
Jorge Arévalo Mateus, a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, received a grant award from the GRAMMY Foundation. Mateus was selected to be an archives and preservation consultant at the Liborio Mateo’s Calvary in the Dominican Republic.
He will oversee unique recordings of primary source of the musical, celebratory, religious and domestic events at the Calvary. These rare recordings comprises sacred and festive music, rituals, liturgies, interviews and daily life at this important pilgrimage center. These field recordings took place from 2000 to 2006 through close work with Reyna Jimenez. Reyna was keeper of the Calvary for forty years, until her death in 2008.
Sumarsam, the University Professor of Music, was named one of the 50 “successful” Indonesians in the United States by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in 2012.
In collaboration with the Indonesian Consulate General in the U.S., the Embassy is publishing a book titled Secret of My Success: 50 Prominent Indonesian[s] Share Their Lessons on Life and Remarkable Career[s]. Sumarsam will contribute a 3,000 word essay for the publication. The goal of the book is to inspire Indonesian communities in the U.S.
At Wesleyan, Sumarsam teaches Indonesia music and theater, focusing on the performance, history and theory of gamelan and wayang. He studies Islam in Indonesian performing arts. Sumarsam is a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Society for Asian Music, the International Council for Traditional Music and the Association for Asian Studies.