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'A Night of Indonesian Culture' with Nusantara Arts & Buffalo Museum of Science

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Mon, Jan 6th 2020 02:35 pm

Nusantara Arts, in collaboration with the Buffalo Museum of Science, will present an evening of Javanese music and art by Buffalo Gamelan Sari Raras Irama from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Buffalo Museum of Science at 1020 Humboldt Pkwy. The concert will take place on the second floor, in front of Hamlin Hall’s Seymour the Mastodon.

In addition to the music, the Buffalo Museum of Science's curator of collections will present a one-night-only pop-up exhibition of Indonesian artifacts from the museum's anthropology collections. This cultural material has not been on display since 1977. 

Gamelan music – from the island of Java in Indonesia – is one of the oldest continuously played musical art forms in the world, with some traditions stretching back to the Bronze Age. A press release explained, “The sometimes meditative, sometimes frenzied, but always beautiful and highly ordered music that a gamelan orchestra performs is made by many pitched percussion instruments and hanging gongs, as well as occasional stringed instruments, flutes and vocalists.”

As well as traditional pieces, Buffalo Gamelan Sari Raras Irama will perform a modern gamelan composition, a dance piece, and a work that uses musical treatments rarely heard outside of royal courts in Java. 

Returning to Buffalo to perform alongside the Gamelan will be Javanese Gamelan virtuoso Darsono Hadiraharjo, who staged a wayang kulit – a traditional Javanese shadow puppet theater performance – this past summer at Kleinhans Music Hall and Artpark.

Tickets for the show are $25, with discounted tickets for students, seniors and military priced at $22, and children’s tickets (ages 2-17) at $10. Tickets may be purchased at sciencebuff.org, or at The Buffalo Museum of Science's front desk.

Hadiraharjo comes from a prominent family of music and theater traditions in Central Java, Indonesia. He grew up in a small village outside of the court city of Surakarta, long known as one of the major hubs for performing arts in Indonesia. Darsono studied karawitan, a genre of music played with a gamelan from Central Java. He also learned the revered art of shadow puppetry from his father and other relatives. He continued his study at Institute Seni Indonesia, a national conservatory of the arts in Indonesia, where he teaches today.

At the royal court of Mangkunegaran, Surakarta, he serves as the main drummer for dances performed at the court. In the surrounding villages, he is regularly featured as an accompanying musician at shadow puppet theater performances.

Darsono first performed abroad with the original troop for Robert Wilson’s “I La Galigo,” a musical theater production based on a myth from Sulawesi, Indonesia, which premiered in Singapore in 2004. He has traveled widely as a teacher and performer of music as well as a puppet master (dhalang) in Europe, the U.S., and Asia. In the U.S., Darsono has been appointed as an artist-in-residence at Wesleyan University, Smith College, Tufts University, Bates College and Cornell University.

Matt Dunning is the founder and artistic director of Buffalo Gamelan Sari Raras Irama, and the executive director of Nusantara Arts Inc. A Buffalo native and SUNY Fredonia graduate, Dunning first started playing gamelan music in 2006 while living in Chicago, before developing a deeper understanding of Javanese performance and cultural practices while living on Java from 2011-13 as a two-time recipient of the Indonesian national Darmasiswa artistic residency scholarship.

He has been fortunate to study with some of the best gamelan musicians in both Java and the U.S., and he formed the original Buffalo Gamelan Club to teach and promote Indonesian music and culture in Buffalo through classes and performances. His goal for Nusantara Arts is to fulfill its even greater mission of creating a world of compassion and empathy through the power of community in music.

Buffalo Gamelan Sari Raras Irama (formerly Buffalo Gamelan Club) was founded in 2016 with the vision of creating an independent, accessible, and vibrant Indonesian arts scene in Buffalo. BG-SRI is rooted in the traditional arts of Java, and it often invites guest artists and teachers to Buffalo for in-depth workshops. BG-SRI has created an impressive performance record with shows at Kleinhans, Asbury Hall, Artpark, Hickory Urban Sanctuary, The University of PA, Music is Art, Canisius College, the Allentown Festival of the Arts, the Tri-Main Center, Torn Space Theater, Slyfest, Larkinville and Canalside.

Nusantara Arts Inc. was born from the growth and success of the Buffalo Gamelan Club, an informal group existing since 2016. After three years of rapid growth while facing an increasing number of performances and classes, Dunning began the process of establishing a nonprofit organization in the spring of 2019.

The press release noted, “Approved the following summer, and after gathering a board of engaged community members excited to support its growth, Nusantara Arts is well on its way to spreading beautiful music and culture further through Buffalo and the surrounding areas.”

About Buffalo Museum Of Science

Rooted in the belief that science creates opportunities and shapes this world, the Buffalo Museum of Science is a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to providing relevant science programming to learners of all ages in the Buffalo Niagara Region. Through interactive science studios and exhibits designed for multigenerational learning, the museum showcases its extensive collection of more than 700,000 specimens and artifacts representing all facets of the natural world with an emphasis on Western New York.

With a focus on raising the science literacy in the Buffalo Niagara area and beyond, the museum offers hands-on workshops, camps, panel discussions, guided tours and enhance learning opportunities for its guests and community.

Opened in 1929 in Buffalo’s Olmsted-designed Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the Buffalo Museum of Science recently installed its eighth interactive science studio, marking the completion of a nine-year-long transformation of its guest experience.

The Buffalo Museum of Science is governed by the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences alongside Tifft Nature Preserve in South Buffalo, a 264-acre urban wetland preserve on reclaimed former industrial land. Learn more at www.sciencebuff.org.

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