Bored or uninterested in the World Cup? Then go to a gig.
Back in Blighty, there’s a category of music called World Music. This refers to music from different countries and, if sung, in a foreign language. This is, of course, incredibly patronising and could be construed as betraying vestiges of imperialism.
Except that when we Brits ruled the waves we also waived the rules. In some cultures listening to or playing indigenous music was banned by the western missionaries on the grounds that this was ‘devil’ worship. Yet just a short listen to the sound of the mbira, the Zimbabwean thumb piano and one is transcendentally transported. The devil sure had the best tunes.
Allow oneself to go with the flow of Balinese gamelan, to be energised by the raw power of flamenco and to dance along with Louisiana cajun. I’m sure you get the idea.
And this preamble is to let my fellow Brits know that they can experience Indonesian musical culture this month without leaving their shores.
SambaSunda will be in Brighton tomorrow, 14th June, at the Komedia (01273. 647100), Wednesday 19 July, 7:30 pm, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank for the Rhythm Sticks Festival and probably elsewhere.
The group updates the lilting sounds of Sundanese gamelan degung and the angklung bamboo instruments by adding elements of Jakarta’s kroncong, Sunda’s jaipong, Balinese kebyar and the Brazilian rhythm of samba. The classic sounds of the traditional instruments evoke not only past splendour but also the bustling, urban energy of Bandung today – a full sound palette from the deep resonance of the mighty gongs to the silvery eloquence of the suling bamboo flute, complete with a heavyweight percussion section, wild vocal chanting known as senggak and the truly breathtaking vocal skills of singer Rita Tila.
The result is a mesmerizing mix that manages, strangely, to be both relentlessly exciting and languidly tranquil, full of explosive energy and seductive sweetness. Both reassuringly familiar and daringly innovative at home in Bandung, this is a dazzling new sound for the rest of the world to discover.
Salaam Music Village 2006: A Celebration of Art and Culture from the Islamic World
The festival illuminates examples of peaceful co-existence and critical engagement between Muslims and non-Muslims across the world. It celebrates some of the breathtaking diversity of artistic forms generated by Muslim communities as an expression of their faith. And it unveils for Muslims and non-Muslims alike the immense and enduring contribution of Islam to the world’s cultural heritage over the centuries.
Free Weekends in London!!
Kew Gardens 1st and 2nd July
Regents Park 8th and 9th July
Rafly is a nationally renowned singer, instrumentalist and social activist from tsunami-torn Aceh. A devout Muslim, he and his talented young band, Kande, perform Muslim prayer chants and rapa’i music in sacred settings, backed by traditional drums and pipes. They additionally carry their message of love and unity to rapturous young audiences all over Indonesia, playing Indonesian contemporary music on electric and folk instruments. Guest perfomer Ubiet Nyak Ina Raseuki is a world class Acehnese traditional singer and also an accomplished international jazz musician.
I know about the above gigs because I subscribe to a ‘World Music’ magazine called Songlines which is delivered by snail mail. The current issue has a major article on Wayang Golek written by noted authority Andrew N. Weintraub, author of Power Plays – Wayang Golek Puppet Theater of West Java
Based on ethnographic fieldwork spanning twenty years, Power Plays is the first scholarly book in English on wayang golek, the Sundanese rod-puppet theater of West Java. It is a detailed and lively account of the ways in which performers of this major Asian theatrical form have engaged with political discourses in Indonesia. Wayang golek has shaped, as well, the technological and commercial conditions of art and performance in a modernizing society.
The article was to publicise a tour by Pak Asep Sunandar Sunarya and his Troupe
Enter a magical and enthralling world of Sundanese (West Javanese) legend, brought to life through the masterful puppetry and music of the region’s leading wayang golek troupe. Pak Asep Sunandar Sunarya is a captivating storyteller, skilfully manipulating his elaborately carved and decorated puppets through complex martial arts movements and the delicate and subtle expressions of traditional dance.
He is particularly loved for his humour, using trick mechanisms in the puppets and hilarious references to everyday life to entertain audiences of all ages. The accompanying gamelan music is lively and varied, characterised by dynamic dance drumming contrasting with sounds of incredible subtlety and beauty.
The magazine arrived too late for me to pass on details of variuos gigs including one at the Royal Festival Hall and a series of workshops for schools. However you can still become entranced this month in York on the 16th, Bradford (free) on the 18th, Southport from 22nd – 24th, Exeter on the 28th (workshop and concert) and on July 1st in Deal (workshop and concert).