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Indonesia to propose gamelan as UNESCO cultural heritage 

Ganug Nugroho Adi

The Jakarta Post

Surakarta, Central Java  /  Sat, August 11, 2018  /  07:31 am
Indonesia to propose gamelan as UNESCO cultural heritage 

A gamelan group from South Bank, England, performs in the opening ceremony of the 2018 International Gamelan Festival. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

The Indonesian government is set to propose that gamelan be added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list next year. 

In opening the 2018 International Gamelan Festival in Fort Vastenburg in Surakarta, Central Java, on Thursday, Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said that gamelan, as an authentic ensemble of traditional instruments, had been studied internationally, resulting in the sprouting of communities the world over.

He said that, currently, a paper on gamelan, to be submitted in March next year, was being written. Artists, musicians and gamelan enthusiasts are expected to support the campaign.

“The government has decided to propose gamelan as a nominee from Indonesia, to be sent to UNESCO next year. The discussion will commence in 2021,” he said.

Gamelan maestro Rahayu Supanggah (left), the Education and Culture Ministry's culture director general, Hilmar Farid (second left), Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi Gamelan maestro Rahayu Supanggah (left), the Education and Culture Ministry's culture director general, Hilmar Farid (second left), Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi "Rudy" Rudyatmo and Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy open the 2018 International Gamelan Festival in Fort Vastenburg, Surakarta, Central Java, on Thursday. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

The ongoing festival features dozens of local and international participants. Three gamelan maestros from Indonesia, namely Rahayu Supanggah (Surakarta), I Wayan Gde Yudane (Bali) and Taufik Adam (Jakarta), presented diverse gamelan compositions.

The festival’s opening ceremony began with “Gendhing Ketawang Puspowarno” by Supanggah, featuring dozens of musicians and singers such as Peni Candra Rini, Endah Laras, Cahwati and Woro Mustiko Siwi, a young singer and puppet master.

Read also: International, local gamelan groups gather at Surakarta festival

Supanggah’s composition was influenced by Javanese gamelan, while Wayan Yudane presented Balinese gamelan. Taufik Adam took a different approach by showcasing musical styles from several parts of Indonesia.

The ceremony also saw the performances of dance maestro Ayu Bulantrisna Djelantik (Bali), theater giant Landung Simatupang (Yogyakarta) and a gamelan community from South Bank, England, founded 30 years ago.

A dance is performed by Ayu Bulan Trisna Djelantik in the opening ceremony of the International Gamelan Festival.A dance is performed by Ayu Bulan Trisna Djelantik in the opening ceremony of the International Gamelan Festival. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Last night’s ceremony was headlined by Djaduk Ferianto-led musical group KuaEtnika (Yogyakarta), which presented four compositions: “Bromo”, “Nirwana”, “Ronggeng To Latinos” and “Siklus”.

Besides the main stage in Fort Vastenburg, festival venues are also located on Jl. Slamet Riyadi and at Dalem Joyokusuman, Lokananta, Bentara Budaya Surakarta, Rumah Banjarsari, Surakarta Vocational High School and the Indonesia Art Institute (ISI).

Slated to run until Aug. 16, the festival will also feature conferences, film screenings, exhibitions and literature presentations, in addition to 19 international gamelan groups and 73 local ones. (wng)