Southern Oregon University’s gamelan ensemble will give two performances. - Southern Oregon University

Music from Western Java

Gamelan Degung Leuwi Asih, Southern Oregon University's gamelan ensemble, is planning a free concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 4, in the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland. The ensemble will also offer an informal free concert from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, April 28, outside the SOU Hannon Library (indoors in case of inclement weather). Children are welcome at both concerts.

The concert will feature traditional gamelan music from western Java and contemporary gamelan music by West Coast composer Lou Harrison. There will be a pre-concert talk at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 4, and after the concert, audience members are encouraged to explore the instruments. Artwork by Jill Lovrin will be featured.

The SOU gamelan ensemble consists of both SOU students and community members. The gamelan instruments are a set of chimes, drums and gongs tuned in a five tone scale. The SOU gamelan set is "gamelan degung," a specific style of gamelan from the Sunda region of Western Java. Traditional gamelan music is cyclic in form and ranges in spirit from meditative and mellow to very energetic. It influenced western composers including Claude Debussy, John Cage, Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

The Sunday program will include two 20th century compositions by Lou Harrison, "Threnody for Carlos Chavez" for viola and gamelan, and "Main Bersama-Sama" for French horn, performed at this concert on flugelhorn, suling flute and gamelan. Harrison taught and performed at the University of California. He was strongly influenced by "world music" and wrote a large body of work that included gamelan or was influenced by gamelan. The two works performed at this concert are very melodic and mellow.

Mimi Prather from the San Francisco Bay area will perform with the ensemble at the May 4 concert. Prather has been studying Indonesian dance forms since 1975 and performed with San Francisco's Gamelan Sekar Jaya for 14 years. She will perform a Jaipongan dance titled "Imut Keursaha."

Jaipongan is an Indonesian dance that combines an early form of folk dance with movements from the martial arts. There is much improvisation involved in the dance. This dance form became quite popular in Indonesia in the 1970s and was performed in nightclubs by solo women who then invited men from the audience to dance with them. Andrea Schaffer, a regular member of the ensemble, will dance to some of the pieces at this performance. She also studied Indonesian dance in Berkeley and danced with Gamelan Sekar Jaya.

Call 552-6101.

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