On 22 August 2017, Allan Thomas and Jack Body were awarded certificates of appreciation for their services in introducing, promoting and developing gamelan in the New Zealand School of Music’s curriculum at Victoria University of Wellington by the Indonesian government.
The Ambassador for the Republic of Indonesia, His Excellency Bp Tantowi Yahya, presented the certificates on behalf of Associate Minister Puan Maharani, Minister for Human Development & Culture of Indonesia. Jennifer Shennan accepted the certificate on behalf of her late husband, Allan Thomas, and Judith Exley accepted the certificate on behalf of her close friend, Jack Body.
Jennifer Shennan’s words on the evening:
Ambassador Yahya, Mrs. Yahya, Excellencies. Hon.Gerry Brownlee, Ministers, Ladies & Gentleman - selamat sore, kia ora koutou katoa.
Our daughters, Beth & Nell, and I are happy to be reminded of the good thing Allan did in bringing the first gamelan to New Zealand, back in 1974.
There are now 8 gamelan in the country — the newest on its way to Auckland University of Technology where Dr.Joko Susilo, as the director, will arrive this week to unpack and name the ensemble.
Altogether this means that hundreds of New Zealanders play or have played gamelan — and therefore thousands of New Zealanders of all ages, have heard gamelan music.
Allan was enchanted with the truth that you can introduce people to gamelan, hand them the beaters and have them playing something beautiful within two minutes… as was brilliantly demonstrated by Pak Budi Putra at an open session of Gamelan Padhang Moncar at VUW last evening. This is not true of a crate of 10 violins - - that would take 10 years.
Allan also taught that a gamelan is, in a sense, a metaphor for politics and the business of good government.
Each instrumentalist has a role and a responsibility within the music. There is no Dictator there, but one could say there is an Emperor, or King, or Governor General – there is a Prime Minister, and other ministers who take portfolios, there is a Speaker, a Chief Clerk, and others — perhaps a Mayor and councillors. They must listen to each other, to work together as an ensemble. Would that all the world played gamelan, and then the world might live as one.