Instruments: Central Javanese
Repertoire: Traditional and New Repertoire
Director: Budi Surasa Putra
Manager: Jack Body
Websites: group and Victoria University
Gamelan was first established at Victoria University by ethnomusicologist Allan Thomas in the early 1970s, centred around a small set of gamelan Cirebon (pelog). Subsequently the pelog half of a large Central Javanese gamelan was presented on quasi-permanent loan to the University by the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington. (This set was one of a number which had been commissioned by the late Bu Tien Suharto for placement in various Indonesian Embassies around the world.) Under a special agreement with the Embassy a gamelan musician was employed at the Embassy (as local staff) and made available for teaching part time at Victoria University. The first teacher under this scheme was Midiyanto (Widiyanto), and the second Joko Sutrisno. With the departure of Mas Joko after 8 years with us, we now have our new teacher Mas Budi. In 1993 we commissioned a set of slendro instruments and some additional pelog saron, so that we now have a fairly full complement of instruments.
We have one "permanent" group of gamelan enthusiasts, and several other groups which allow students to experience an "alternative" style of music making. Generally we tour every year to some other part of the country giving concerts, and sometimes wayang performances with dalangs Widiyanto and Joko Susilo (currently resident in Dunedin). In 1994 we toured to Indonesia performing several times for TVRI.
We also enjoy playing new repertoire and recently recorded a CD (Tabuh Pacific) of new compositions by gamelan members including one composition combining gamelan with Western orchestra, another with piano and a third with electronic sounds. At various times we have worked with guest composers such as Jody Diamond, Wayan Sadra and Lou Harrison.