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International, local gamelan groups gather at Surakarta festival

Ganug Nugroho Adi

The Jakarta Post

Surakarta, Central Java  /  Fri, August 10, 2018  /  03:34 pm
International, local gamelan groups gather at Surakarta festival

Surakartan students join the festive soft opening of the International Gamelan Festival 2018 in Sriwedari Park on Thursday, Aug. 9. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Around 50 gamelan groups from inside and outside the country are currently participating in the International Gamelan Festival (IGF), held for one week in Surakarta, Central Java, starting Thursday.

The "Homecoming"-themed festival is also joined by dozens of researchers and experts on the traditional music instrument.

Some areas in Surakarta serve as venues for the performances, including Vastenburg Fort, the Indonesian Fine Arts Institute (ISI) Surakarta, City Hall, Central Java Cultural Park and other locations in Wonogiri, Karanganyar, Sragen, Boyolali and Sukoharjo.

At least 73 gamelan and community groups gathered to play gamelan simultaneously for one hour starting 3 p.m. on Thursday. They lined up along Jl. Slamet Riyadi as far as 4 kilometers from Sriwedari Park to Vastenburg Fort.

"This event serves as a platform for gamelan groups across the globe to gather. Not only performances, this festival also hosts seminars, workshops and research presentations on gamelan," said the Education and Culture Ministry's culture director general, Hilmar Farid.

The IGF is held as part of a collaboration between the ministry and the Surakarta city administration. Surakarta, known as the center of the gamelan community, was chosen as the first-time host of the festival.

"As the center of the gamelan community, Surakarta deserves to host the festival. This is the first installment; we are planning to hold this event biannually," said IGF executive director Garin Nugroho.

Read also: Preserving Javanese culture through gamelan

Garin said gamelan has spread across the world with various forms of expression.

"In London, there are at least 140 gamelan groups. There are also dozens of groups in the United States, as well as Asian and European countries," he added.

The festival is expected to gather all artists, practitioners and lovers of gamelan from many cities and countries to share their adventures and experiences, said Garin.

For one week, among the gamelan maestros scheduled to perform are Rahayu Supanggah from Surakarta, Wayan Yudane from Bali and Taufik Adam from Jakarta. Musicians Djaduk Ferianto, Gunawan Gonrong, Joko Porong and United Kingdom gamelan group Siswa Sukra, are also slated to perform. (kes)