Vita Brevis

A compelling Inter-Cultural Meditation on Life’s Brevity for Voices, Gamelan & Dance

To remember those who died before their time, particularly the victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami.

20 November 2005

Gamelan Padhang Moncar and Gamelan Taniwha Jaya combined with the choir of St Mary of the Angels, and three guest vocalists from Indonesia (Nyoman Sukerta, Muriah Budiarti, and male soprano Suyarto), to present this concert.

Traditional Javanese music was interspersed with plainsong arrangements by Jack Body, compositions by Gareth Farr and I Wayan Gde Yudane, and Shen Nalin’s Wan Ge (Elegy), a setting of a poem by Tao Yuanming that Jack loved. Nalin’s piece was dedicated to Jack and is reproduced below.

I Nyoman Sukerta also performed Topeng Tua (a traditional Balinese masked dance) accompanied by Gamelan Taniwha Jaya.

“the setting by Wayan Yudane of a poem by I Ketut Juliarsi called A Drop of Water at the Edge of a Leaf, [was] performed with striking authenticity by a fine assembly of Indonesian singers, gamelan (orchestra) and gamelan choir…. Dancer Nyoman Sukerta’s revelatory performance of the Balinese Dance of an Old Man, however, took us convincingly into another realm, self-explanatory and universal in its meaning.”

Lindis Taylor, Dominion Post, November 18, 2005


If there is life there must be death,
Early or late, there is no hurrying fate.
Yesterday evening we were people together,
Today at dawn we are listed among the ghosts.
The breath of the soul, where has it gone?
A dried-up shape is left in hollow wood.
My beloved children snivel, looking for their father,
My best friends mourn by the coffin, weeping.
Winning, losing, I won’t come back to know them
Being, nothingness, how can I tell them apart?
In a thousand autumns, in ten thousand years,
Who will know our glory and shame?
But I do regret that during my time in this world
I did not drink all the wine I wanted.

Tao Yuanming (365-427AD)
Trans. Shen Nalin assisted by Jack Body