Thursday 27 October 2011, 7pm
Adam Concert Room, NZ School of Music, Kelburn Campus
Gamelan Taniwha Jaya and students of PERF252/352 at the NZ School of Music under the direction of Gareth Farr presented a full programme of classic Balinese music for the first time in Wellington with a full ensemble.
“Gamelan of walking warriors”, the gamelan beleganjur ensemble is a traditional funeral procession music – a far cry from the sombre funeral marches of Western cultures. The noisy ceng ceng (cymbals) and reong (pot gongs) are intended to frighten the demons away, so that the soul can leave the body in peace.
This is an arrangement of one of the most popular dance pieces in Bali - usually performed by a young boy, and often one of the first pieces a young dancer will learn. Its origin is from a warlike sacred dance, but is now secularised and intended to show off the virtuosity of the dancer. The angsel (break) is one of the more obvious features of this music – a recurring rhythmic accent where the dancer and musicians syncronise a jerky sudden gesture.
There are two very common Balinese techniques on display in this piece – a melodic technique (empat – ‘four’) where half of the players play the melody four notes higher than the others – and kotekan (flowers) an elaborating technique where the players play patterns that interlock with each other.
Written in 1927 by one of the most famous Balinese composers, I Wayan Lotring, Sekar Gendot was originally for the much smaller ensemble that accompanies the shadow puppet performances. Here it is in an expanded version for Gamelan Gong Kebyar.
“Liar Samas” is Balinese for ‘four hundred’, and the story goes that the composer of this piece (I Wayan Lotring again) named the piece this, because that’s how much he charged as a commission fee!
Teruna Jaya is another standard in the Balinese repertoire – it is written in Kebyar (“to flare up”) style, meaning it is characterised by sections that are full of unpredictable, irregular rhythms, and wild contrasts of dynamic and tempo. The pieces begins with one of the longest examples of this style of music, and the composition is a tour de force of Balinese virtuosic style.
Manuk Rawa is another dance piece, translating as ‘Swamp Bird’. This is the only piece on the programme that utilises the full gamelan ensemble, and is our piece de resistance! At the end of the piece, you can hear the swamp bird, chirping away on the kantilan, the smallest instruments.