Indonesian, Filipino sights and sounds come to Kaua‘i

Gamelon maestro Ismet Ruchimat, founder of the Indonesian fusion group Sambasunda, is giving two music and dance shows next week at the Church of the Pacific in Princeville. The first is Wednesday at 7 p.m., and a teaching workshop titled “Bamboo and Bronze,” at the Steelgrass Ranch in Kapa‘a, is Thursday. The second performance will be Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.

Joining Ruchimat for these events will be Joey Ayala, well-known Filipino singer and songwriter, and a few members of Sambasunda.

The Indonesian performers specialize in gamelon degung, a West Javanese style with deep roots in the culture of the Sundanese people.

In the workshop, they will teach gamelon, an ensemble of bronze percussion instruments played by up to eight people, as well as kacapi, the Sundanese horizontal harp, the kendang drum, and angklung and suling, bamboo flutes. The dancers will teach traditional Indonesian dance and martial art forms, plus the fusion style called jaipong, which has recently developed in Java.

“This was originally going to be just the workshop,” said Tony Lydgate of Power of Music.

“But we figured because we had these dancers and musicians, that we’d have these shows for the public. It’s very difficult to see these types of performances outside of their countries.” Ayala, one of the most celebrated performers and recording stars on the contemporary Filipino music scene, is famous for integrating ethnic instruments, such as the two-string hegalog and the kulintang, an eight-piece gong set, into pop music. A university graduate with a degree in economics, Ayala also lectures and teaches widely on Filipino culture and the arts.

“Bamboo and Bronze” starts this Thursday and ends the following Sunday, February 5. Participants will have the opportunity to interact, study and perform with Ruchimat, Ayala, and the dancers. Also on the workshop staff are musicians and university teachers of Asian culture from overseas, who have done extensive field work in ethnomusicology. Daily workshop sessions will include participatory instruction in gamelon, dance and related martial arts, and Indonesian and Filipino vocal music. Evening activities will include a recital series, group performance sessions, and music listening and discussion groups. No previous music or dance training is required.

For more information, visit the workshop Web site, www.power-of-music.org, or call 821-1857.

Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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