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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Gamelan Ushers In Finals Week

Sebring-Lewis will be filled with the sights and sounds of Indonesian tradition when the Javanese Gamelan Music and Dance Ensemble performs this Saturday at 2 p.m. The program will consist of five “sets” of music, one of which will feature a traditional wedding dance.

“The music, generally speaking, its exoticness and strangeness can be bridged fairly easily. It’s not harsh sounding,” said Roger Vetter, Music.

The performance will also be packaged much like a western musical performance. Nineteen musicians will perform in a concert hall, on a stage, and without the ceremonial significance of the original art form. Nonetheless, the experience promises to immerse listeners in a different culture.

“There are so many aspects of Java’s history…all those layers are reflected in different ways through the performing arts,” said Valerie Vetter, Javanese dance instructor.

Part of the cultural experience will be the intermixing of two art forms, dance and music. Javenese music is typically designed to accompany dance, theatre, or a puppet show. Two students, Emily Ullberg ’12 and Chooi Yen Lim ’12, will perform a slightly modified traditional dance that involves a lot of fine details and flashy scarf moves.

“It’s a wonderful dance that is very dynamic, I think,” Val Vetter said. “It’s very closely related to the drumming, so the drum kind of speaks the movements.”

Elaborate costumes and makeup will also add to the visual impact of the performance.

The dance, like many Javanese dances, tells a story. This piece depicts a young prince who is thinking of his love and preparing to meet her.

“It’s a character from some story,” Val Vetter said, “and it’s usually reflecting that character’s inner character.”

Gamelan music plays a similar role in performance, creating a mood or a tone that can be adapted to new lyrics or performances. This is partially because the music is never written down, so there is a limit to the number of variations that performers can be expected to know for any given occasion. In its typical ceremonial function, the music projects the mood of the moment.

“Most often you would hear it in accompaniment of some kind of theatrical presentation,” Professor Vetter said, “which again is taking place to serve some ceremonial function, say a new business is opening shop.”

In this case, the Javanese Gamelan Music and Dance performance will usher in the final days of the semester, introducing students to an exciting cultural tradition that celebrates the ceremony of performative art.

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