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Echoes of Baliís Past

Mekar Bhuana Performs Ancient Balinese Music at Bali Arts Festival on Tuesday, July 9, 2013

(7/8/2013) As part of the Bali Arts Festivals’ month-long program of cultural and arts performances, Mekar Bhuana Center will present a unique performance of previously extinct Balinese music at the Ayodya Stage, Taman Budaya (Bali Arts Center)  in downtown Denpasar on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Mekar Bhuana Center was established in 2000 as a division of the Selonding Bali Foundation by New Zealand ethnomusicologist Vaughan Hatch, and dance instructor Putu Evie Suyadnyani. Based in Kertalangu, Denpasar, Mekar Bhuana specializes in Balinese court, archaic gamelan and dance art forms - specifically semara pagulingan, semara patangian (pelegongan), semara pandirian (bebarongan), selonding and gender wayang.

The Center’s primary aim is to create a repository of rare and nearly extinct Balinese music and dance. Currently, there is no such artistic archive exists in Indonesia.

In preparation for their July 9th performance, Mekar Bhuana’s team of 33 musicians has reconstructed five pieces of once extinct seven-tone semara pagulingan court music from four different villages in Denpasar. Four of these pieces have been studied from vintage recordings or research documentation, and one has been transferred from the aural memory of an 84-year-old man from Kaliungu Kelod. Believed to the last living musician familiar with this piece of music, this is the first time that a reconstruction of this kind has been successfully carried out.

Never before has the transfer of music been attempted in this manner. The Mekar Bhuana’s team - under the guidance of founder Vaughan Hatch, Pagulingan style expert Pagan Kelod Semara, I Made Sumara, and musical coach and senior lecturer Wayan Suweca - has arranged this piece of music transcribing it to be played by a large bronze court orchestra.

Entrance to the 2:00 pm performance at the Bali Arts Center is free of charge, but it is recommended to arrive by 1:00 pm in order to secure a seat.

[Mekar Bhuana Website]