Garry and I are hosting an exchange student from Indonesia, specifically, the island of Java. Widya’s year here in Portland is funded by the US State Department in an effort to promote cross-cultural understanding. You can visit her blog about her trip here. Being host parents for the PAX program is a great experience, and I will write more about that another time.
Some years ago our friend and neighbor Pat performed with Venerable Showers of Beauty, a Portland gamelan. A gamelan is an orchestral ensemble that plays music in the traditional style of Java or Bali or other Indonesian islands. The word “gamelan” refers especially to a set of traditional instruments built and tuned together so carefully that they are not interchangeable with the instruments of other gamelans. The gamelan used by Venerable Showers of Beauty at Lewis & Clark comes from Central Java and is over a hundred years old. At Pat’s suggestion, the four of us attended their concert at Lewis & Clark College last Sunday. Before the performance, we got to visit the instrument room.As you can see here, the musicians sit (on pillows) on the floor.This type of music is new to me. The way the rhythms and tones swirled together, the audience seemed to be in the middle of a musical aurora borealis.
After the concert, the audience was invited to meet the musicians and see the gamelan up close.People could try out the various instruments.Here is Pat (left), with one of the musicians.
Here is Widya with the big gong.The wood carving at the top is filled with beautiful little monkeys and other creatures.It is a Balinese tradition to bring flowers for the gong. Pat brought some camellias from her yard.After the concert Widya saw me taking her picture, and posed to express her thrill at seeing traditional Javanese/Balinese music here in Portland!Venerable Showers of Beauty will perform again on June 2, and details will be posted on their website. We plan to be there!