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University of Michigan Collaboration with Javanese Musicians

Organized by: Megan Hill

Megan's Photo
Megan's Photo
Megan's Photo

EVENT DATE Dec 12, 2015

THE STORY:

The University of Michigan's (UM) Javanese Gamelan Student Group is working to maintain the vitality of our gamelan program and continue to engage university students of the 21st century. As the first official student group in our ensemble's nearly 50-year history, we hope to do this not only through creative and dynamic term projects, like the one seen in the video here, but also by working with young musicians from Java to perform vibrant Javanese works together. We believe that by maintaining the energy and vigor of our program in these ways, we can continue to increase institutional support for our ensemble at UM so that the gamelan will be around to enrich the lives of UM students and the Michigan community for many more years to come.

One important way that we are working to achieve these goals is a planned collaboration with the Javanese university gamelan group, Unit Kesenian Jawa Gaya Surakarta (UKJGS, see below). We have invited the UKJGS to visit UM to hold workshops with various UM music and dance departments, and work with the UM gamelan to perform a Ramayana dance drama together at Hill Auditorium on December 12, 2015. However, the UKJGS cannot make the trip from Java to Michigan without your help! Funding for UM's gamelan ensemble is very limited, and although the UKJGS is able to fund 86% of the money necessary to make this event possible, the UM ensemble cannot provide the remaining 14% on its own. 

A collaboration between UM’s gamelan and UKJGS would offer a unique and exciting opportunity for UM students to learn directly from Javanese performers, and to present a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Hindu epic poem for Michigan audiences. In addition, it is our aim that your support in making this project a reality would benefit not only the students and community of today, but will help us keep alive the UM gamelan far into the future.

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Where your donations will go:

In all, the UKJGS group invited to perform with the UM gamelan ensemble includes 27 people. The UKJGS is able to support their own international travel, equipment purchases and rentals (costumes, make-up), visa fees, and other related costs, at a total of $95,760 (USD). The remaining necessary expenses to be provided by the UM gamelan ensemble will cover:

Rental fees for Hill Auditorium             $2,000

Hotel accommodations                           $1,790

Bus transportation                                        $967

Catering and hospitality supplies       $9,774

Sound equipment                                          $125

Lighting equipment                                      $125

Instrument transportation                         $920

       Total:                                                      $15,599

The remaining $156 of our funding goal is to cover fees (1% of funds raised) charged by Crowdrise.

In the unlikely event that, after raising the necessary funds, this project cannot come to fruition (in the case of an unexpected emergency, significant bureaucratic problems, etc.), all donated money will be given directly to the UM gamelan endowment.

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Our community support at UM:

The UM Javanese Gamelan Student Group is working to make this collaborative project happen with the support of the University of Michigan's Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and of the gamelan's current and previous directors, Dr. Susan Walton and Dr. Judith Becker:

"I whole-heartedly support this effort to bring a troupe of Javanese musicians and dancers to Ann Arbor. Every time that we bring musicians and dancers to campus, some of our students decide to further their study of Javanese music or dance in Indonesia the following summer or year or to study Indonesian language on campus. I am particularly excited about this troupe because it consists of university students. This is a wonderful opportunity for cultural and musical exchange." —Susan Walton

"The arts of any world region inform us about aspects of culture that permeate any society. For almost fifty years the University of Michigan gamelan ensemble has been a strong contributor to the understanding of the aesthetic values of a major region of Southeast Asia. This exciting collaboration will work to carry on that tradition."               —Judith Becker

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A little background information:

Javanese Gamelan is a type of musical ensemble made up of predominantly percussion instruments, mainly made of bronze, which has been played on the island of Java in Indonesia for centuries. The University of Michigan's ensemble is the only non-Western musical ensemble offered for course credit through the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and therefore provides an invaluable opportunity for students to learn about a vastly different musical tradition, and about a culture and artistic practices from another part of the world. For more information about the UM Javanese gamelan, see our profile here.

The UKJGS is a Javanese dance and gamelan group based at Gadjah Mada University, one of the top universities in Indonesia. They are one of only very few groups chosen to regularly perform the Ramayana dance drama at Prambanan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Central Java. The dancers in the group are instructed by the award-winning dancer, Damar Kasyiyadi. The musicians are instructed by the experienced shadow puppet gamelan musician, Joko Suwito. For more information on UKJGS's activities, see their profile here.

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