Tuesday, 26th September 2017

Indonesia awards three British gamelan pioneers

11th September 2017 | 1.284 Views
London, UK, Sep 11 (Antara) - Indonesias Education and Culture Ministry awarded three British gamelan pioneers -- Alec Roth, Neill Sorrell, and Anne Hunt -- at the 2017 International Gamelan Festival Summit at the Cadogan Hall, London, Sunday night (Sept 10).

Awards from the Indonesian government were delivered by Director General of Culture Hilmar Farid to three pioneers of gamelan music in the UK and simultaneously launched the Home Coming Gamelan Festival in Solo in 2018.

Gamelan is the Javanese and Balinese traditional ensemble music played predominantly using percussion instruments.

Hunt was delighted and had never expected that her efforts to popularize gamelan music in the UK would be highly lauded.

"It is an honor and pride for me that what I have done is being recognized," Hunt, who in the early 1970s had organized Javanese music and dance tours in the UK and Europe, noted.

Meanwhile, Sorrell, an ethnomusicologist who studied gamelan at the Wesleyan University, said gamelan in Britain is similar to flower seeds that had been planted and now continue to grow and bloom.

Sorrell, who teaches music at the York University, has urged the university to buy gamelan. He was involved in several activities, including the Durham Oriental Music Festival & English Gamelan Orchestra, when the gamelan arrived in the UK.

In addition to music, Sorrell wrote several books and articles and make compositions on gamelan. With a large number of gamelan instruments and lecturers, he expressed hope that more Indonesian musicians will be able to perform more often in the UK.

Meanwhile, Roth opened the South Bank Gamelan in about 1987. He helped the public to learn gamelan and opened night classes as well as organized workshops and gamelan training at schools on weekends, which were valuable breakthroughs in introducing gamelan in the UK.

The South Bank Gamelan is now one of the gamelan groups in Europe that has been acknowledged worldwide.

Roth, Sorrell, and Hunt will be invited to attend the International Gamelan Festival in Solo, Central Java, in 2018.

Gamelan has been known worldwide since its introduction at the Paris World Fair in1889. Today, the popularity of gamelan has grown, and it is played at several educational institutions, art communities, museums, and galleries across the world.

Gamelan has become a tool of expression for various artists from across the world, including England, the Netherlands, Germany, America, and Japan. At least 200 gamelan communities were born in the US and 158 others in England.

According to Head of the Foreign Cultural Diplomacy at the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture Ahmad Mahendra, gamelan in Britain was documented by Stamford Raffles (1781-1826) in the History of Java (1817).

Raffles was the first Briton who brought two sets of gamelans to England, one of which was kept at the Claydon House in London. Meanwhile, the British Museum also has a gamelan on display since 1859.(*)