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Gamelan Pacifica

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United States - Oregon

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Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan Ensemble

THE VENERABLE SHOWER OF BEAUTY (VSB) Gamelan (known as Kyai Guntur Sari in Javanese) would not be in Portland without the dedication and vision of Vincent McDermott (Lewis & Clark faculty ethnomusicologist and composer from 1977-1997) and the generous support of Loraine C. Fenwick and Lewis & Clark president at the time, John Howard. In 1978, after months of searching in Java, McDermott and Fenwick, with the help of Pak Rahayu Supanggah, located and purchased this set of instruments, chosen for its historic nature, unusual configuration and rare beauty.

The Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan originated in a village near Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia in approximately 1880. It was made for and used by a wealthy Chinese Indonesian family. Lewis and Clark College is particularly fortunate to have a gamelan of this quality and the community group is extremely proud to be able to learn and perform on these instruments.

This gamelan is an example of one of the larger gamelans of Central Java, consisting of two sets of instruments, one tuned to the slendro scale, the other to pelog. It also contains a few unusual instruments including the demung renteng and the bonang panembung. This gamelan was the first of its kind in the Northwest and about the tenth to arrive in the United States. The gamelan was named by one of Java’s most famous and respected musicians and composers, K.R.T. Wasitodiningrat (usually known as Pak Cokro), who was a mentor for the group in its early years. Later, American composer Lou Harrison returned to his native Portland to work with the group several times, and so began a long legacy of new and traditional works being created and performed by the extensive community of music lovers who have played these instruments and contributed to the rich cultural fabric of life in Portland. From 1986 to 2002, the ensemble was led by the renowned Javanese musician, teacher and shadow puppet master Ki Midiyanto, a former Lewis & Clark faculty member. Pak Darsono “Vokal” was guest director with the group in 1990/91 and Pak Supardi joined the group in 1991/92.

VSB is currently under the direction of Mindy Johnston.

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