The centuries-old music of the Balinese Royal Court - a sound unlike any other music in the world and sometimes likened to the sound of water rushing down a mountain stream - is, to its admirers, a thing of ethereal, heavenly, and ineffable beauty.
Singaporeans will soon be privileged to hear live and on stage the rare sounds of the semara pagulingan - the "gamelan of the love god."
In feudal times, most courts in Bali possessed a semara pagulingan orchestra that served to lull the royal family to sleep, as well as accompany sacred pendet dances held in local temples. Today, due to the diminished role of palace society and the fast pace life of the modern world, this wonderful musical genre has become something of an endangered musical species. And, sadly, the remaining semara pagulingan sets left in Bali can be counted on one hand.
Mekar Bhuana Conservatory in Sanur [www.balimusic.org], was established in 2000 in order to preserve this vanishing art form. Working closely with senior teachers from traditional villages, and professional musicians and dancers, the Mekar Bhuana continues to make critical inroads in the documentation and rehearsal of rare Balinese court music and dance.
Living legends of Balinese dance and music are sought out and consulted, ancient recordings sourced from private collections around the world, and period instruments restored and returned to the performance stage as part of the organization's commitment to preserving Bali's musical heritage.
Appearing in Singapore May 2 and 3
Mekar Bhuana has been invited to bring the magic of semara pagulingan, played by 26 accomplished Balinese musicians, to the open-air stage at the Esplanade in Singapore as part of an international festival "A Tapestry of Sacred Music."
Performances on May 2 and 3, 2009 only. Details at [Esplande Website]
As part of this historic visit to Singapore, a seminar conducted by Vaughan Hatch, an ethnomusicologist and highly regard gamelan musician will be held on May 3, 2009 at the Esplanade Library at 3:00p.m. Hatch has spent more than a decade researching the classical style of the Balinese musical orchestra.
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