Aratani World Series: "Cup of Java"

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CalArts Gamelan Ensemble
CalArts Kyai Doro Dasih Gamelan Ensemble(The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

The Aratani World Series (formerly the World Festival of Sacred Music) launches into an exciting, new chapter tomorrow night (Saturday, November 29), presenting “Cup of Java,” an exquisite night of Indonesian ceremonial gamelan music and courtly dance.

Ten classically-trained master dancers from the prestigious  <!-- missing image -->Institute Seni Indonesia, Yogyakarta (ISI) will be accompanied by the complex polyrhythms of LA’s very own CalArts Javanese Gamelan Kyai Doro Dasih Ensemble, under the musical direction of Javanese composer/percussionist/dancer wunderkind, Anon ‘nonsky’ Suneko (ISI), Djoko Walujo and I. Nyoman Wenten (both CalArts, formerly of ISI). Together they will perform selections from the famed Indian epic, the Mahabharatatold in the forms of masked dances, dueling warriors, and other intricate dances, choreographed to Suneko’s original compositions.

Javanese gamelan music and dance traces its origins back to around the 8th century AD and was reserved solely for performance in the royal courts of the Yogyakarta sultans. Former LATimes dance critic, Lewis Segal, describes gamelan as “the highest expression of an ancient culture,” with its deceptively simple tuning of the individual instruments to form the polyrhythmic structures within the orchestra. Gamelan refers to the entire ensemble of (mostly) percussion instruments seen onstage that include different types of metallophones (instruments of rows of interval-tuned metal surfaces that are struck with mallets), gongs, drums, and sometimes bamboo flutes (suling), bowed strings (rebab), and vocalists.

The Aratani World Series, hosted and in partnership with the Japanese American Community Cultural Center (JACCC), will feature this and many other artists from around the world, as well as some of our own local LA treasures, in eight very special performances from November 2014 through April 2015 at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo. More upcoming shows from the Aratani World Series:

So congratulations to Director Judy Mitoma, Anu Kishore, and their hard-working staff for bringing these cultural treasures from around the globe to Los Angeles. Since the World Festival of Sacred Music was founded back in 1999 as “an intercultural, interethnic, interfaith celebration” millenium project by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Judy has been crusading to encourage the public to reach out, be more curious and eager for exposure to the artistic and imaginative world of others…to hear languages spoken from the stage or in the house that they do not understand, and in the end feel a resonance with people and places that are both near and far.”

For all of the obvious reasons, there is really no more perfect time for us to do just that. You can get involved or find out more information about the Aratani World Series by clicking here.

A sneak preview of tomorrow evening’s “Cup of Java” Indonesian gamelan music and dance. 

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