It was a fantastic day for a concert. The weather was partly cloudy but bright, though it was quite chilly. The drive down to Seattle wasn't bad, aside from a short stretch between a bit north of Northgate and the University District exits.
Squat was good to me, and I found parking right near the Asian Art Museum. Mom called as I was getting off the freeway, so I called her back before I went inside. We talked briefly, and I talked with my brother for about 15 minutes about his plans and what he's going to be doing. He figures it might be about a day and a half from where he is to Colorado Springs, though he'll allow more time in case of bad weather. Apparently there's a good bit of snow between there and there, if you will.
Upon entering the museum, I found myself a seat. Things were still in setup, with chairs being hauled out and set out for people to use. I grabbed a chair and set myself down behind the bonangs, near the kethuk, kempyag, kenong set; tedgill
played these instruments throughout the concert today. I saw brandywilliams
, though they were seated in a different part of the room than I was. Before things got started, I also saw sebastian_lvx
and his roommate, who had never been to a gamelan performance before.
The area in the museum where the gamelan was set up is a large court area, the Fuller Garden Court, open to the main doors of the museum, but surrounded by walls separating it from the galleries on either side. There is a translucent ceiling allowing filtered ambient light into the area, and the floor is paved with stone. It's a very bright, sharp space, acoustically, and proved to be a superlative venue for the gamelan itself, though the vocalists performing in one of the pieces, even with amplification, did have to fight the space to be heard well. Had the concert been purely instrumental, it would have been pretty much the perfect venue.
The museum itself has a very art deco style. I've always enjoyed that aspect of it very much. This, and the Indian sculpture in the court that surrounded us, only added to my enjoyment of the performance. Gamelan Pacifica recorded their piece "Trance Gong" in that space some years back. By the time the concert started, the court was, quite literally, standing room only.
Because of the size and the acoustics of the space, Jarrad Powell chose a selection of pieces in the gendeng bonang mode, emphasizing particular instruments suited to the space. The opening piece was a traditional composition, "Babar Layar." (I think I've written it down correction. tedgill
can correct me if I'm wrong.)
The next three pieces were modern compositions, the first by Lou Harrison. Gamelan Pacifica recently recorded "Scenes from Cavafy: Music for Gamelan," which tedgill
was kind enough to gift me with a copy of last year upon its release. This piece was from another series of works, titled "Philemon and Baucis." The ensemble intends to record this, and several other Lou Harrison pieces this year, from what was said at the concert. This work, I thought, particularly showed off the acoustics of the space, blending gamelan and violin in a striking performance. The resonance of the gongs was particularly fine in this space.
Jarrad Powell composed the next piece played, specifically for this concert and the space, titled "Gendheng Tala - Nourishment."
The fourth piece was by a modern Javanese composer, K.R.T. Wasitodiningrat -- "Ketwang Gendeng Purnama Siddi." This piece featured vocalists and the rebab. I was seated at the far end of the ensemble from the speakers, and so the vocals were slightly distorted from where I sat, but it still sounded pretty good. Jessika Kenney and the other vocalists did a fine job up against the challenges of the space.
The final piece, much shorter, was Lancaran bubaran Kembang Pacar, more or less used as a recessional for the audience to depart if they wished during the piece. Most stayed. I waited long enough to say hi to Ted again and ask him for the titles of the pieces performed, but he had to break down and that was going to take ages. Bidding him and the others a fond farewell -- Brandy and Alex had to catch a ferry and sebastian_lvx
and his roomie were off to chill elsewhere -- I headed down to Travelers to grab a light early dinner.
Allen is making some really fantastic barley-mushroom momos this month in honor of Losar, the Tibetan new year. The food was excellent, I got to talk for a little bit with Leon, and traffic was reasonably calm on the way home from Seattle.
For those interested in further Gamelan Pacifica performances, this is from their website:
SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 2011, 8 PM - PONCHO Concert Hall; Gamelan Pacifica presents Gamelan Gadhon, soft-style music from the classical repertoire of Central Java, with special guest KI MIDIYANTO, renowned Javanese musician and dalang. Gamelan Gadhon is an ensemble consisting of the soft-style instruments of the Central Javanese gamelan. Instruments inclulde rebab, gender, gender panerus, voice, slenthem, suling, siter, gong, kempul, kenong, kethuk, and kendhang. The music performed by this ensemble is among the most refined and exquisite chamber music in the world. Gamelan Pacifica will perform pieces from the classical repertoire of Central Java.
SUNDAY, April 26, 2011, 7:30 PM - Meany Hall, University of Washington. Gamelan Pacifica performs with renowned dancer Didik Nini Thowok two classics of Javanese court dance, Golek Ayun-Ayun and Gambyong Pangkur - also featuring special guest drummer Heri Purwanto.
I saw Didik Nini Thowok perform with them a few years ago and it was a wonderful experience. I'd definitely encourage you to go if you're local and you're able.