Gamelan Composers Forum

Yesterday I was in London with the Gamelan Composer’s Forum, an occasional collective brought together by Aris Daryono and Rob Campion to share approaches to writing for the gamelan. This particular event the series is entitled ‘The Intimate Gamelan’, and features three pieces written for a gadhon-size ensemble, performing in a private house in South London.

There were three new pieces. ‘Sang Empu’ (‘The Maestro’) was Aris’ piece scored for cello and ciblon, the cello part being taken by Alice Jones. Aris explains that this piece draws both on the cello tradition within kroncong, where the cello imitates the kendhang, and on the ciblon drummming for palaran.

Rob contributed another piece involving Alice on the cello, ‘New Moon’. This featured Rob playing the slenthem with two beaters, like a giant gender: I rather like imagining the cello in this piece as a giant rebab!

My own piece was a one-off assemblage of two of my ‘openings’, flexible bits of bits of material that I reuse in different ways for different performing occasions. The first part was based on an idea entitled ‘fibblestix’, an accellerating series of percussive clicks that eventually prompt a response form the gender. The second part of ‘Two Openings’ – as the overall piece is called – is ‘Adrift & Afloat‘ adapted for one pelog and one slendro gender. I’m very happy indeed with the way Rob and Aris approached this piece, very thoroughly prepared, and sounding very convincing indeed the intimate setting of a private house.

A fascinating evening: I’m glad I made the effort to get down to London to take part.

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