In June 1996, Denver-based Gamelan Tunas Mekar performed at the Pesta Kesenian Bali – the Bali Arts Festival – surprising the primarily Balinese audience with our performance (Indonesia’s Gatra magazine wrote that “Denver Awakens Bali”). 2019 will mark our return engagement at the month-long 41st Annual Bali Arts Festival, alongside our invited performance at the Karangasem Art & Culture Festival and our smaller-stage performances throughout villages in Bali. As the ensemble wraps its 30th year, these performances in Bali are vital to our continued artistic development.
Tunas Mekar began performing using the gamelan angklung, a 4-tone ensemble that is used for performances primarily in temples and for ceremonies, with a repertoire of traditional sacred music and dance from Bali, Indonesia. When the group was joined by our Artist-in-Residence, master drummer and composer I Made Lasmawan, he expanded the group’s repertoire to include secular music and dance pieces by transposing works for the larger “gong kebyar” gamelan to our “angklung” gamelan. It was this repertoire that the group performed with the gamelan angklung at the Bali Arts Festival in 1996.
As we prepare to return to Bali, we plan to expand on this repertoire with our own repertoire of “kreasi baru,” or new creations that fuse the past, present, and future of our ensemble. Balinese music and dance are a vibrant and living art form where composers and choreographers are continually creating new works. Our group is preparing new works by I Made Lasmawan (with choreography by Ni Ketut Marni), I Putu Tangkas Adi Hiranmayena (with choreography by Dewa Ayu Eka Putri), I Made Tangkas Ade Wijaya, and Kendall Burks. Presenting these new works to the Balinese and experiencing the new compositions the other local and foreign groups may present is an important reason for Tunas Mekar to travel to Bali and to perform at this time.
In addition to presenting and experiencing new works, Tunas Mekar aims to bring the experience of performing and engaging in Bali to the current members of the group. Currently in its 30th year, Tunas Mekar – as many Balinese groups experience over time – is transitioning from the original members who experienced Bali in 1996 and have since guided the group forward from that experience, to a younger group – the next generation. Three of our thirty participating members performed in 1996, and we feel it’s extremely important at this time to bring our younger members to Bali to imbue them with the passion that has sustained and inspired the group since our formation.
About the Festivals
Pesta Kesenian Bali (the Bali Arts Festival), now in its 41st year, was founded with the purpose of increasing cultural tourism to the island of Bali and the country of Indonesia. This month-long festival features a range of daily performances across multiple stages, art exhibitions, cultural and commercial activities, and food courts – all open and free to the public. Musical performances range from ancient revived musical forms to shadow puppet performances, from Japanese taiko drumming to Balinese heavy metal, and from regional Balinese gamelan competitions to gamelan groups from the US, Japan and Europe. What began as a tourism endeavor now represents one of the artistic highlights across the island, with ensembles preparing year-round to compete and perform at the festival and gamelan aficionados returning to the island year after year.
Each year the Bali Arts Festival features performers from outside Bali and around the globe. Past international groups include Gamelan Sekar Jaya (California), Wiryahita (Japan), MFA Dance Profesor Bonni Simoa (Oregon), and Les Grandes Personnes (France), as well as national groups from the islands of Java, Kalimantan, Lombok, and Banda Aceh. The full festival program is announced each spring.
Gelar Kesenian (Karangasem Art & Culture Festival) is a younger festival that celebrates the arts and culture of the regency of Karangasem. Located in East Bali, Karangasem is home to Gunung Agung, the holiest volcano in all of Bali, home to the mother temple, Pura Besakih. The Karangasem Art & Culture Festival was designed to highlight the arts and culture of the region, with a focus on the traditional arts of the region. In inviting Tunas Mekar to perform, the festival is expanding their reach by including a foreign ensemble for the first time.
How You Can Help
On Dec 18, 2018 Tunas Mekar received an invitation to return to Bali to perform on June 19 & 21, 2019 at the 41st Bali Arts Festival and June 22 at the Karangasem Art & Culture Festival. Our 20+ members immediately committed to these performances, and the financial costs individually, but we could really use your support.
As you may know, Tunas Mekar is a 30-year old 501(c)3 non-profit, all-volunteer organization that is self-funded by performances and workshops throughout the year. However, a trip of this magnitude is a huge financial undertaking for us. We are asking for your support in the form of a tax-deductible donation of any amount to help cover transportation, instrument rental, dancers’ cost & costumes, and to help offset the cost for those members for whom the expense is difficult to come by. Given our type of ensemble and the way we learn and perform, it is crucial that all our members make the trip.
Use the Donate button below to contribute via PayPal (PayPal accepts credit cards if you don’t have a PayPal account). Terima kasih!