Celebrate the culture of Bali

By From page B2 | October 02, 2013

FOLSOM — Gamelan Sekar Jaya is renowned for its exploration of traditional and modern forms through long-term work with Bali’s finest artists. This 60-plus company of musicians and dancers perform on Balinese instruments — from bronze-keyed metallophones to gongs, drums, and flutes. Formed in 1979, they are the only foreign group to ever receive Bali’s highest award for artistic achievement; they have performed in the bustling village squares in Bali (most Balinese have seen Sekar Jaya in live performance or on TV) all the way to the Hollywood Bowl.

Oct. 5, the company will dazzle the audience in Folsom at Harris Center for the Arts.

Gamelan Sekar Jaya comprises several kinds of gamelan orchestras and dancers. Each orchestra is composed of bronze metallophones and/or bamboo marimbas, usually combined with tuned gongs, drums and flutes. True to the Balinese tradition, the musicians learn the individual layers of melody and complex, interlocking figuration directly from master Balinese musicians, without the aid of notation. Sekar Jaya’s dancers learn the elaborate choreographies of Balinese dance in a similar manner through intensive training with resident dance directors.

In various combinations, these musical ensembles and associated dancers have presented hundreds of concerts in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, bringing an understanding and appreciation of Balinese performing arts to diverse audiences. Additionally, Sekar Jaya regularly offers workshops in the Bay Area in Balinese music and dance, and has presented many lecture-demonstrations, school programs and other outreach activities.

A key element of GSJ’s unique success has been direct artistic interaction. More than fifty of Bali’s most renowned musicians, dancers and theater artists have joined GSJ for extended residencies over the past 33 years. Many are from ISI Denpasar (Bali’s National Academy of the Arts, formerly known as STSI and ASTI) or from prominent performing ensembles and arts organizations throughout Bali.

These residencies have been central to the direct and unmediated give-and-take between cultures that Gamelan Sekar Jaya has fostered. Extended contact with master artists has enabled the group to become a key player in Bali’s living artistic traditions, which are continually invigorated through new artistic creation and re-interpretation of older forms. The group has sponsored the creation of more than eighty new music and dance works by Balinese and, more recently, American artists — often in exciting collaborations that stretch the boundaries of culture, genre, and ethnicity; and blur the distinctions between traditional and modern.

Within Bali itself, the name “Sekar Jaya” is famous. The group’s seven highly successful concert tours to Bali (1985, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2010 and 2012) have each resulted in a flood of TV documentaries, radio broadcasts, recordings and newspaper articles that have made the group a household name in Bali. Part of what fascinates Balinese audiences and artists is GSJ’s devotion both to traditional arts and to the creation of ground-breaking new works.

Andy Toth, ethnomusicologist and former Consular Agent in Bali, has written, “It is no exaggeration to say that most of the 2.8 million Balinese have seen Sekar Jaya in live performance and television broadcasts, and the group continues to receive special coverage from the Indonesian electronic and printed media … their cross-cultural works not only have been accepted eagerly by American and Indonesian audiences; their innovative compositions have directly stimulated creativity on the part of the Balinese themselves. In a very real sense, Sekar Jaya’s programs and tours at home and abroad contribute as much or more to international understanding as do many official goodwill tours of American cultural groups.”

Gamelan Sekar Jaya will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5. Tickets are $19 to $29 with premium tickets available for $39 and students with ID get in for $12. Purchase tickets online at harriscenter.net or from Harris Center ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.

This performance is presented as part of the 2013 Sacramento World Music and Dance Festival. For more information on the festival visit sacworldfest.org.


Three Stages


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