Gamelan at Eastman, as in Bali, is a communal effort. Our members include Eastman students, faculty, and staff, as well as many members of the Rochester community. The music is learned through the oral/aural tradition without the use of notation, and therefore requires the players to work together closely for long periods of time. The result is a sense of group unity and pride as the audience hears the music and witnesses the collective efforts of the ensemble.
Since 1993, Eastman Gamelan has provided students and members of the Rochester community the privilege to learn music from two very different Balinese gamelan ensembles: Gamelan Lila Muni (Heavenly Sound) and Gamelan Sanjiwani (Life Force). Gamelan Lila Muni is an ancient four-tone gamelan angklung which traditionally performs music for rituals and ceremonies. Gamelan Sangi Wani, of the five-tone gamelan gong kebyar, is an ensemble developed in the 20th century associated with youthful exuberance and characterized by explosive changes in tempo and dynamics.
Eastman’s gamelan ensembles perform throughout the northeastern United States and in Canada in programs of traditional and contemporary Balinese music, present interactive workshops for audiences of all ages, and engage in creative collaborations with Western musicians and composers. In recent years, we have collaborated with Bobby McFerrin and the Paul Winter Consort, and have premiered new compositions by composers Wayne Vitale, Robert Morris, Jennifer Fontana Graham, Daniel Ianantuono, John Orfe, and Payton McDonald, including a number of Eastman student composers.
New members are welcomed into the Eastman gamelan ensembles each year, regardless of musical experience.