1 Gita Asmara (2007 by Wayan Sudirana) is the group's signature theme, inspired by an early 20th century gamelan piece called Jaya Semara. This contemporary work makes use of the seven-tone gamelan semarandhana with its frequent modulation and employs syncopated interlocking parts in unconventional meters.
2 Baris (trad.) is a traditional dance piece representing a warrior preparing for battle. The music is based on short repetitive cycles that are interjected by a series of unpredictable accents cued by the dancer.
3 Banyuari (1992 by Michael Tenzer) was commissioned for the 1992 tour of California’s Gamelan Sekar Jaya to Bali. Incorporating ideas from Indian and Western Classical music, the piece is radically different from traditional Balinese gamelan and was startling to its Balinese audiences, but nonetheless warmly received by them. Its innovations continue to be influential to Balinese composers.
4 Legong Keraton Lasem, excerpt (trad., ca. late 19th century) Legong Keraton
is a genre of courtly dances that developed many variants and styles during the 20th century and came to be known as the island’s quintessential reﬁned female dance. This performance includes the central sections of Lasem, a version of Legong depicting the kidnapping of a princess and the appearance of a bird of ill-omen foretelling the demise of her captor in battle.
5 Kebyar Gandrung (anon., ca. 1930) is a piece in the ﬁery style of kebyar music and dance that developed in the early 1900s. The dance portrays an energetic youthful character, and this is reflected in the music’s virtuosity, speed and drive.
ABOUT GITA ASMARA
From the culturally rich island of Bali in Indonesia, comes a tradition of beautifully intricate music and evocative dance that has been attracting international attention for over a century. Gamelan Gita Asmara (translated as “Gamelan of the Song of Love”) is a Vancouver-based ensemble of approximately 30 musicians, including dancers, that perform traditional and contemporary Balinese music on a spectacular and authentic gamelan made up of bronze metallophones, gongs, cymbals, drums, and bamboo flutes.
Gita Asmara, founded by ethnomusicologist and composer Michael Tenzer, is made up of local performers dedicated to the arts of Bali. It is host to Balinese guest artists I Wayan Sudirana (musical director) and Ni Putu Widiantini (dance director). The group does not use written notation, but rather prepares the complex music in the traditional manner of memorization and intensive rehearsal over many months. Gita Asmara performs a variety of different styles, ranging from the traditional Balinese ritual music heard in temple ceremonies, to the fiery Kebyar style and the refined courtly Legong style.
The ensemble is dedicated to presenting new works alongside time-honored Balinese classics. Over the years, it
has commissioned several new works from Dewa Ketut Alit (director in residence 2001-04), its current director I Wayan Sudirana, and Canadian composers Colin MacDonald and Jocelyn Morlock. In the spring of 2009 Gita Asmara presented the North American premiere of the complete Legong Keraton Lasem to critical acclaim and a sold-out audience. This full length Balinese “ballet” of abstract beauty and rich detail is one of the world’s greatest dance achievements.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
I Wayan Sudirana was born in Ubud, Bali in 1980. He is a graduate of the ISI Balinese Arts Institute and a member of the Gamelan Çudamani Collective. He is one of Bali’s most gifted young musicians, has composed and taught actively all over the island, and toured abroad frequently. He has been co-director of Gita Asmara since 2004.
Ni Putu Widiantini was born in Nusa Penida, Bali, and graduated from ISI Balinese Arts Institute. She is widely known for her dynamic portrayals of Balinese female dances, and has been performing and teaching in Vancouver since 2005.
Michael Tenzer is a composer, author, performer and teacher. Professor of music at UBC, he has authored two books on gamelan. His compositions have been commissioned and performed worldwide by ensembles ranging from the American Composers Orchestra to Gamelan Çudamani in Bali, Indonesia. www.michaeltenzer.com
ABOUT BALINESE MUSIC
More or less synonymous with the term ‘orchestra’, gamelan refers to an entire ensemble of bronze metallophones, gongs, flutes and drums, played by as few as 5 and as many as 50 people. The music of the gamelan is an intricate blend of highly patterned sonorities and compositional systems.
One of the more prominent techniques is that of hocketing, or interlocking two distinct musical parts to form a single
intertwined composite (known in Bali askotekan), which has developed in Bali to a level of complexity unparalleled
elsewhere in the world. To achieve the synchrony and unity of ensemble, both within the music and in its relationship to the dance, long hours of rehearsal are necessary. Neither the music nor the dance are notated, yet they are fully worked out and unimprovised. Their various parts are learned directly from a teacher, who repeats each strand until, through imitation, it is mastered by the students. The parts are then combined so that the interlocking figuration is seamless. The piece comes to life with shadings of tempo, dynamic, orchestral color, and sensitivity to choreography.
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