Gamelan Encantada is a percussion ensemble with roots in the metallophone orchestras of Southeast Asia, specifically those of Central Java in Indonesia. In addition to presenting traditional Javanese music, Gamelan Encantada is committed to commissioning and performing contemporary and experimental music, with a focus on works by New Mexican composers.
This album was recorded in honor of Gamelan Encantada's 20th Anniversary, and is comprised of various compositions commissioned by the ensemble (since the group's inception in 1991) from local composers. Here is what each composer has to say about their piece(s):
Steve Peters (TJOTJOG - composed in 1992)
“Tjotjog (cocok) is a Javanese word referring to a fortunate synchronization of events, what we might call a ‘happy accident.’ Melodic lines of varying lengths overlap to create shifting rhythmic and harmonic juxtapositions.”
Steve Peters is a composer, sound artist, producer, curator and writer who now lives in Seattle, WA. He was one of the original members of Gamelan Encantada and wrote a number of other pieces for the ensemble, some of which incorporated found sounds and electronic processing.
Joseph Weber (SYMPHONY FOR GAMELAN - composed in 1991)
This is the second movement of a three-part Symphony for Gamelan. The text is from the biblical Song of Songs of Solomon (Canticum Canticorum Salomonis), and is sung in Latin by Beth Cohen, who has been a member of Gamelan Encantada since 2008. “So now in his eyes I have become welcomed.”
Joseph Weber, who passed away in 1999, composed a wide range of music for chamber ensemble, orchestra, chorus and piano. He was also an accomplished organist, and, at the time of his death, was preparing a concert of the works of Olivier Messaien. He also collaborated with various theater and dance companies throughout New Mexico and taught music theory and composition at the College of Santa Fe.
Beth Yip (PATIENCE: A GAME - composed in 2008)
“Patience: A Game grew out of my interest in the vein of experimentalism that explores the boundaries between music and other human activities. The form of the piece exemplifies an indeterminate performance process, where the players are given semi-improvisational events, within which certain parameters are specified, others are loosely specified, and others are left entirely up to the performer. The overall pacing results in significant non-sound-producing spans that allow ambient or unintended sounds to be included in each experience of the piece.”
Beth Yip recently completed graduate work at UNM in theory and composition, where she wrote her thesis on feminist themes in the music of Pauline Oliveros. She continues to be interested in working with multi-media and alternative approaches to music and sound, and has helped to organize Unheard Of, a series of concerts featuring work by local composers, as well as the Harvesting Local Soundscapes Project, funded through UNM's PLACE program.
Daniel Davis (EVENING PRAYERS & DANCE - composed respectively in 2000, 1994, 2006)
“Each part of the trilogy called Evening Prayers and Dance (Peace, Hunger, Solitude and Jubilation) shares a similarity in style and instrumentation, and although the meters of each are different, metrical shifts appear internally throughout. The gongs often sound alone or isolated, like great orbs in rotation around the other musical bodies.”
Daniel Davis has composed a wide variety of music in many styles, ranging from solo and chamber works to orchestral and operatic pieces, and has also created music and sound design for theater and dance productions. He teaches music at CNM Community College and at the UNM Center for the Arts Department of Music.
Gamelan Encantada was founded in 1991 by Jenny DeBouzek (Artistic Director), and has performed at The Outpost Performance Space, Globalquerque World Music Festival, Albuquerque's Festival of Asian Cultures, the Harwood Art Center, the Albuquerque Museum, and the International Museum of Folk Art in Santa Fe. Here is what Jenny has to say about the album:
"This year marks the Twentieth Anniversary of an ensemble that has included more than sixty-five members, all devoted to mastering a style of music rooted in the traditions of the gong orchestras of Southeast Asia, specifically those of Central Java in Indonesia. Yet Gamelan Encantada has also been committed to performing contemporary and experimental works for percussion orchestra, with a focus on commissioning pieces by New Mexican composers, such as those presented here.
"These pieces all represent a link in a now world-wide movement to connect deeply and respectfully with the music of another culture, then somehow transform that experience in order to create works that might contribute in some way to one’s own musical heritage. In this way, I believe we are encouraged to expand our ideas about 'family' to include people living (and listening) in very faraway places, while at the same time strengthening the ties that bind us to our own local cultures and communities.
"Before coming to New Mexico in 1988, I had studied and performed with both Southeast Asian and American gamelan orchestras in my adopted homes of New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in Java and Bali. My move to New Mexico presented me with a dilemma: for the first time in my adult life, there was no gamelan group to join. So I had steel and aluminum keyed instruments built, imported a set of gongs and drums to match the tuning, found a few friends willing to play, and started out on this adventure.
"I want to thank all of the performers, composers, and listeners who have contributed to the success of Gamelan Encantada over the past twenty years. This beautiful music has always been, and will no doubt continue to be, a central theme in my life, and this particular ensemble has provided me (and hopefully many others) with a refreshing, constant, and enduring refuge – truly, an Oasis in the Desert."
Members of Gamelan Encantada performing on this CD: Amy Clinkscales, Andrew Saletta, Beth Cohen, Beth Yip, Brynna Benefield, Carrie McChesney, Erik Teixeira, Gabe Paul, Jenny DeBouzek, Kim Scudder, Mark Bernstein, Richard de Shazo.
Recording/Mixing Engineer: Saul Rodriguez Garcia
Design/Graphics: J.B. Bryan
Photos: David McChesney
Recorded in 2009/2010
Mastered at Wall of Sound Studio, Albuquerque, NM