Zach Bellows lives in Colorado Springs where he teaches piano lessons and accompanies a middle school choir. He enjoys playing with chamber music groups in Colorado Springs and Denver, and has toured internationally with the Bowed Piano Ensemble, an experimental music group. He graduated from Colorado College in 2013 with a B.A in Music and Environmental Science. While at Colorado College, he developed a love of gamelan through the student group there and was able to travel to Bali with Pak Made to complete an Environmental Science thesis on the quality of river water in Bali. He joined Tunas Mekar in the fall of 2016.
Karen joined Tunas Mekar in 2012 with an interest in experiencing the rich musical culture of the gamelan. Karen is an elementary school music teacher, and gets the privilege of imparting the love of music to children every day. Karen is an active member of the Rocky Mountain Orff chapter of music educators. Karen served in the Peace Corps in Moldova and taught at an international school in Honduras.
Born in Bangkok, Thailand, Ben has been performing traditional Thai music and dance with Colorado’s Thai community since 1999 and is a founding member of the Thai Harmony Traditional Arts Ensemble. After hearing Gamelan Tunas Mekar perform at the same festivals and local events as Thai Harmony for many years, Ben finally had the opportunity to join the gamelan in 2012 after studying with I Made Lasmawan at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A graduate of the Denver School of the Arts, Ben is currently pursuing a PhD in ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Ben is an avid music listener and performer of many genres, and plays various traditional Thai instruments with the Thai Language and Culture School at Wat Buddhawararam and bassoon and contrabassoon with the Colorado MahlerFest Orchestra.
Born in 1995, Aleanna grew up in the Tunas Mekar family. Her mom, Carolyn Oakley, has been a member of the ensemble since 1992. Aleanna began performing with Tunas Mekar in 2011 and spent a month in Bali in both 2013 and 2015 studying with Pak Made in the village of Bangah. Aleanna also plays African marimba and has been a member of the Kutandara Center community, performing with the youth ensemble Shamwari, and with Mukanda marimba ensemble in Olympia, Washington.
Joe Engel holds three music degrees: cello performance (Bachelors and Masters), music theory and composition (bachelors). He has been studying cello and other music forms for over 14 years. He was introduced to gamelan in 2015 when he attended a Tunas Mekar concert at the University of Denver. At the urging of Professor Aaron Paige, he attended his first Tunas Mekar rehearsal in August of 2015 and was hooked. Joe is a music educator and performer, and, in addition to cello, has studied guitar, North and South Indian classical musics, Tuvan throatsinging, and other non-western disciplines. Joe feels privileged to be a member of Tunas Mekar, and is constantly inspired by the vibrant and explosive energy of the group.
An innovator in the world of digital media distribution, Michael designed, sold, and deployed TouchMedia, one of the nations largest networks of digital media stations. Mr. Fitts has a proven track record as an entrepreneur in the music and technology sectors. His first success was the development of a powerful software application or the cost-effective management and tracking of music promotion campaigns. This application led to his forming INDIEgo Promotions in 1992, which went on to become a nationally recognized provider of marketing and promotions services for independent artists and labels. In 1996 he created the label Synergy Music as a progressive home for Art Lande, Paul McCandless and other internationally renowned jazz artists. Through a series of acquisitions in conjunction with industry veteran Paul Schulman he launched Synergy Distribution (SD) in 2002. Michael has been a member of Tunas Mekar since 1991, performed with the group in Bali in 1996 and has been its President since 2000.
Jill holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Denver. As a drummer, Jill has performed with Larry Coryell, Marvin Stamm, Red Rodney, Bill Watrous and has recorded albums with Lee Konitz, Spike Robinson, Ellyn Rucker, and Brad Terry. She joined Gamelan Tunas Mekar in October 1989 and has since traveled to Bali numerous times to study with traditional teachers. In the Spring of 1993, Jill instructed the gamelan angklung at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She is also a member of “Catur Eka Santi,” the Denver-based gender wayang orchestra used to accompany the Balinese shadow puppet play.
I Nyoman Tangkas Aji Guyasa
Aji currently attends high school in Colorado Springs and studies music and dance with his father, Pak Lasmawan. Aji has performed with Gamelan Tunas Mekar and the gamelan orchestras of Colorado College and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Tara is a student at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO where she is a biology major and music minor. She has been studying gamelan with Pak Made Lasmawan since the fall of 2010 and plays in the Colorado College gamelan, Tunjung Sari, in addition to Tunas Mekar. She joined Tunas Mekar in the fall of 2011.
Carolyn is a musician, graphic artist, Second Life entrepreneur and Mom living in Boulder, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she studied classical music with an emphasis on the contemporary, and electronic music composition. She has played in numerous new music ensembles from Massachusetts to California including The Time and Motion Project and Plateau Ensemble. She has taken workshops with Meredith Monk, Art Lande and others. Carolyn has performed with Tunas Mekar since 1992, and is a member of the international Second Life improvisation ensemble Avatar Orchestra Metaverse.
Aaron Paige is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. He has been a member of Tunas Mekar since 2014 and has been studying and performing Balinese and Javanese Gamelan for the last 15 years. In addition to his interests in Southeast asian music, Aaron is also a performer and scholar of South Indian classical, popular and folk music, Ghanaian drumming, and Arabic music. At the University of Denver he teaches courses on World Music, Global Hip-Hop, South Indian Rhythmic Theory, and leads Lamont’s Ghanaian drumming ensemble. His research has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, a Society for Asian Music Fieldwork Grant, two Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowships in Malay and Indonesian, and two American Institute for Indian Studies Advanced Tamil Language Fellowships.
I Made Tangkas Ade Wijaya
Ade currently attends high school in Colorado Springs. He studies music and dance with his father, Pak Lasmawan, and has performed with Gamelan Tunas Mekar and the gamelan orchestras of Colorado College, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the University of Wyoming.
I Made Sumayasa
Made was born in the small central Balinese village of Batulantang, where he lived until November, 2002 when he moved to Hawai`i to join his wife. Made has played gamelan all his life and was a leader of his community gamelan group until he moved to the U.S. Made is also an accomplished artist in the traditional Balinese style and, despite his village’s isolation from the centers of art in Bali, his work is sought out by gallery owners and collectors throughout Bali. In Bali, Made is known for his unique affinity for the Barong, and, his Barong paintings are highly sought out by other Balinese. Made has shown his paintings in the 2004 Artists of Hawaii juried exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts and at the Gallery On The Pali in Honolulu. Made played with Tunas Mekar in 2008-2009 when he lived in Denver with his wife and two small children. At that time, Made built and hand-painted the Candi Bentar (stage set) now used by Tunas Mekar.
Made says of his art: “I am from the island of Bali located in the Indonesian Archipelago. Art and music are very important to my culture and are used for many ceremonial purposes as well as entertainment. Our primary religion is Hindu-Bali. As Hindus, we are a minority in Indonesia, but we are very proud of our culture and religious beliefs. Take a look at some examples of what makes my island so special.”