On February 12, the Sumunar Gamelan and Dance Ensemble had a very successful performance at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. The concert, originally scheduled for March 2020, was finally able to take place. It was a special occasion that marked the first performance use of Concordia’s gamelan. The gamelan has been part of courses at the college taught by Dr. Jeff Meyer, who is also a member of Sumunar gamelan. The concert opened with a video greeting from the Indonesian Consulate in Chicago and concluded with a collaborative performance of Kecak by the Sumunar performers and Concordia students. For photos and a recap of the performance and Joko’s work with the students on campus, visit Concordia Cultural Event’s Facebook page.
There are many ways to get involved in Sumunar!
Take a class to experience the joy of playing gamelan music and practicing Indonesian dance. Classes are available for both youth and adults at all skill levels. Participation in one of Sumunar’s performing ensembles is also available for gamelan and dance students. Scholarships are available for youth (age 7-18) students in the gamelan and dance classes.
Schedule a residency for your school. Over 10,000 children participate in Sumunar workshops and residencies each year. Topics include gamelan, dance, puppetry, and Indonesian culture and language.
Donate your time or money to support Sumunar programs. One-time and ongoing volunteer opportunities are available, and your financial donations are tax-deductible.
Become a Member of Sumunar to enjoy year-round performances.
Instructional videos: Javanese gamelan
Check out this series of videos that Sumunar recorded of five master musicians playing a variety of elaborating instruments. Each video features one elaborating instrument; for each piece there are several videos of different instruments, and in some cases, examples of different master musicians playing the same piece. We hope that you will find these videos useful to your study and enjoyment of Javanese gamelan.
Wayang Kulit: Shadow Theater
Wayang kulit is an Indonesian art form in which two-dimensional leather puppets are made to cast shadows onto a screen lit from behind. Other forms of wayang with three-dimensional puppets or even human performers are also known in the region. The flat puppets of wayang kulit are beautifully gilded and painted. In any single show there may be dozens of them representing a whole world of gods, kings, warriors, hermits, ogres, clowns, and more. All of them are manipulated by one dalang (puppeteer), who sits behind the screen and supplies distinctive voices for all the different characters. Read more.
Learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia
Would you like to learn some practical, every day Indonesian? Even if you don’t have immediate plans to visit this fascinating country, your experience of Indonesian music, culture, and even food can be enhanced by knowing a few simple words. Here’s a beginning vocabulary and a few useful words and phrases for everyday life.
1= satu, 2= dua, 3= tiga, 4= empat, 5= lima, 6= enam, 7= tujuh, 8 = delapan, 9= sembilan, 10= sepuluh, 11= sembalas, 12= dua belas, 13= tiga belas …
tens = puluh: 20= dua puluh, 30= tiga puluh, 31= tiga puluh satu (3 x 10 +1), 40= empat puluh,
hundreds = ratus: 100 = seratus, 200= dua ratus, 300= tiga ratus, etc.
thousands = ribu: 1000 = seribu, 200=dua ribu, etc.
Forms of address
Father: Bapak (or Pak), Mother: Ibu (or Bu), Brother: Mas, Sister: Kakak
Morning = pagi, Midday = siang, Afternoon = sore, Night = malam
Selamat is derived from the Arabic Salam, meaning “May your action be blessed”
Good morning: Selamat pagi; Good night: Selamat malam; Good journey: Selamat Jalan
Good bye: Selamat tinggal (if you’re going); You’re welcome: Selamat datang
Good sleep: Selamat tidur.
Apa kabar? How are you?
Kabar baik: fine or bagus (great)
Terima kasih: thank you
Kembali: you’re welcome (literally, return)
Sama-sama: You’re welcome (literally, the same)
Ma’af: I’m sorry, excuse me
Permisi: excuse me, permit me
This video shows how rice is grown along with some scenes of both the countryside and life in rural parts of the country.
A visit to the gong factory shows how gamelan instruments are made.
Here’s a short video about the role of religion in everyday life in Indonesia. It’s not intended to promote or criticize any particular religion but merely to show how some of the many faiths are practiced there.
Why are the islands of Indonesia called “Spice Islands?” Here’s a short history and geography lesson. I neglected to mention in the video that when Christopher Columbus set off across the Atlantic in 1492, he, also, was looking for a new route to the spice islands. And when Magellan sailed around South America and across the Pacific to reach the Malucas in 1521, he set off a territorial dispute that was resolved in the 1529 treaty of Zaragoza that set the boundry between Spanish and Portuguese possessions at about 125 degrees longitude. As part of that settlement, Spain claimed the title to the Philippines, while Portugal continued to claim most of what is now Indonesia. The island of Timor was split in half, with East Timor under Spanish control and West Timor under Portuguese (and later Dutch) domination. The repercussions of that treaty continue to trouble us today.
Here’s a visit to a batik factory.
Shadow puppet show: This 8-minute summary shows scenes from an all-night wayang kulit show. UNESCO has a great video on shadow puppets that shows them being made as well as some excellent performance clips.
Here’s a visit to the wayang orang (human puppet) theater.
Indonesian men dance! Here’s a short clip from a dance/drama in Sragen City in which men dance with remarkable grace and balance.
Saman: The Dance of a Thousand Hands, from Aceh.
Angklung are bamboo instruments that are very easy to play. Here students from a school in Bandung give a concert.
Here’s a dance we had the privilege of seeing at ISI (the school for the arts) in Solo, Indonesia in 2010. The music and cooregraphy are new but the costumes, story and dance technique are classical. Notice the precision in the dancer’s movements. Why do you suppose the women wore such long sarongs that they have to kick them out of the way every time they turn around? The dance starts out in the dark, but the lights come up in just a few seconds.