1974: Colorado Women’s College writes a grant to purchase a Balinese gamelan angklung.
1976: CWC, with the assistance of Gertrude Rivers Robinson and Dr. I Made Bandem, receives shipment of gamelan angklung instruments from Bali.
1982: The University of Denver purchases the CWC campus, and the gamelan is placed in storage.
1988: Through an agreement arrived at by former CWC student Frankie Anderson and John Trainor, Ethnomusicologist at DU’s Lamont School of Music, the gamelan angklung instruments are made available to a group of local musicians recruited by percussionists Mark McCoin and Mark Fuller. This collective first meets in October, for two weeks of intensive instruction conducted by Wayne Vitale of San Francisco’s Gamelan Sekar Jaya. The Denver Gamelan, as it is initially known, begins rehearsing in preparation for its first public performances.
1990: Six founding members of The Denver Gamelan travel to Bali for two months of study with musicians I Nyoman Astita of Denpasar, and I Made Madri, of the village of Pengosekan. They ask Pak Madri to provide a Balinese name for the group. The name he chooses is the same as that of his own village’s angklung, Tunas Mekar.
1992: Gamelan Tunas Mekar performs with I Made Lasmawan and I Gusti Ngurah Supartha at the World Bank in Aspen, Colorado. Pak Lasmawan subsequently moves his family from San Diego to Colorado, where he begins organizing and teaching gamelans at Colorado College in Colorado Springs and the Naropa Institute in Boulder. He becomes Tunas Mekar’s teacher and Artist-In-Residence.
1995: A group of Tunas Mekar members travel to Bali for a period of musical and cultural study centered in Pak Lasmawan’s village, Bangah. Connections are made with members of the village and its gamelan, and the foundations are laid for a future trip to be made by the entire group.
1996: Gamelan Tunas Mekar is invited by the Governor of Bali to perform at the annual Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar. With funding raised through multiple performances in Denver, the group travels to Bali and presents a two hour gamelan angklung performance at the Festival. The concert, which features dance students from STSI, the Performing Arts University in Denpasar, is attended by an audience of several thousand, and is filmed for television and aired across Indonesia. Pak Madri and three members of the Bangah gamelan join Tunas Mekar on stage, and I Ketut Partha, the composer of ‘Sindu Arsa,’ plays kendang with Pak Lasmawan for Tunas Mekar’s version of his piece. Gatra, the well known Indonesian weekly magazine, reviews the performance favorably in an article titled “Denver Awakens Bali,” which credits Tunas Mekar with reviving an interest in angklung among Balinese musicians. I Made Bandem, the Director of STSI at the time, presents Tunas Mekar with a banner signifying the group’s appearance, and Tunas Mekar becomes the second US gamelan in the Festival’s history to have participated.
1998: Ni Ketut Marni, wife of I Made Lasmawan, joins Tunas Mekar.
1999: Tunas Mekar commissions the building of a large gamelan, called a Semaradana, by gamelan maker I Made Rindi of the village of Blahbatuh, and receives the instruments in midsummer. Rehearsals on the new orchestra begin in early Fall.
2009: I Made Sumayasa, a Balinese painter and musician who plays with the group for a time, builds and paints a theatrical set depicting a Temple Gate, which becomes the backdrop for a special dedication ceremony and Tunas Mekar’s gamelan semaradana performances.
Gamelan Tunas Mekar Discography:
1993: “Gamelan Tunas Mekar”
1995: “Gamelan Tuans Mekar – Music of Bali, Indonesia”
2007: “Gamelan Tunas Mekar – Kembali ke Bali”