It was back in 2015 when we first ran a story about Matt Dunning and his efforts to jumpstart the Buffalo Gamelan World Music Club in Buffalo. Five years later, the gamelan music scene has grown more than anyone could have imagined, thanks to Dunning’s unwavering perseverance. Throughout that time period, there have been some pretty exciting public events, where the community has been able to see the full Buffalo Gamelan Club (Nusantara Arts – Buffalo Gamelan Sari Raras Irama) in action, but there is one event coming up that will fully demonstrate the troupe in action.
On Saturday, January 11, the Buffalo Gamelan Club will perform at the Buffalo Museum of Science. What makes this particular performance so special is not just the large number of musicians and instruments, it’s also the treasure trove of Indonesian arts and artifacts in their vault that they haven’t had on display since 1977, according to Dunning.
Gamelan music from the island of Java in Indonesia is one of the oldest continuously played musical art forms in the world.
“They are going to do a one day only special exhibit of this material, and we are going to play in the Great Hall,” said Dunning. “The fantastic treasures that they are bringing out of storage haven’t been on display since 1977. It’s a treasure trove of artifacts they have from when they were a natural history museum competing with the field museum in the early 20th century!”
2020 is going to be a big year for the Buffalo Gamelan Club. Not only are they still anticipating moving into the Richmond/Ferry Church (the Rosanna Elizabeth Visual & Performing Arts Center), they are also establishing a capital campaign to raise funds for a marching gamelan. We will have more on that story at a later time, but for now, be sure to catch the incredible Buffalo Gamelan Club in action at the Nusantara Arts Buffalo Gamelan Show.
Darsono Hadiraharjo comes from a prominent family of music and theater traditions in Central Java, Indonesia. He grew up in a small village outside of the court city of Surakarta, long known as one of the major hubs for performing arts in Indonesia. Darsono studied karawitan, a genre of music played with a gamelan from Central Java. He also learned the revered art of shadow puppetry from his father and other relatives. He continued his study at Institute Seni Indonesia, a national conservatory of the arts in Indonesia, where he teaches today. At the royal court of Mangkunegaran, Surakarta, he serves as the main drummer for dances performed at the court. In the surrounding villages, he is regularly featured as an accompanying musician at shadow puppet theatre performances. Darsono first performed abroad with the original troop for Robert Wilson’s “I La Galigo,” a musical theatre production based on a myth from Sulawesi, Indonesia, which premiered in Singapore in 2004. He has traveled widely as a teacher and performer of music as well as a puppet master (dhalang) in Europe, the US, and Asia. In the U.S., Darsono has been appointed as an artist-in-residence at Wesleyan University, Smith College, Tufts University, Bates College, and Cornell University.
Matt Dunning is the founder and Artistic Director of Buffalo Gamelan Sari Raras Irama, and the Executive Director of Nusantara Arts, Inc. A Buffalo native and SUNY Fredonia graduate, Matt first started playing gamelan music in 2006 while living in Chicago, before developing a deeper understanding of Javanese performance and cultural practices while living on Java from 2011-2013 as a two-time recipient of the Indonesian national Darmasiswa artistic residency scholarship. Matt has been fortunate to study with some of the best gamelan musicians in both Java and the US, and he formed the original Buffalo Gamelan Club to teach and promote Indonesian music and culture in Buffalo through classes and performances. His goal for Nusantara Arts is to fulfill its even greater mission of creating a world of compassion and empathy through the power of community in music.
Buffalo Gamelan Sari Raras Irama (formerly Buffalo Gamelan Club) was founded in 2016 with the vision of creating an independent, accessible, and vibrant Indonesian arts scene in Buffalo. BG-SRI is rooted in the traditional arts of Java, and they often invite guest artists and teachers to Buffalo for in-depth workshops. BG-SRI has created an impressive performance record with shows at Kleinhans, Asbury Hall, Artpark, Hickory Urban Sanctuary, The University of PA, Music is Art, Canisius College, the Allentown Festival of the Arts, the Tri-Main Center, Torn Space Theater, Slyfest, Larkinville, and Canalside.
Nusantara Arts, Inc was born from the growth and success of the Buffalo Gamelan Club, an informal group existing since 2016. After three years of rapid growth while facing an increasing number of performances and classes, Buffalo Gamelan Club founder Matt Dunning began the process of establishing a nonprofit organization in the spring of 2019. Approved the following summer, and after gathering a board of engaged community members excited to support its growth, Nusantara Arts is well on its way to spreading beautiful music and culture further through Buffalo and the surrounding areas.
Nusantara Arts Buffalo Gamelan Show
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Buffalo Museum of Science | 1020 Humboldt Parkway | Buffalo NY 14211
For more information, and to purchase tickets, click here.
Lead image courtesy Tom Sager
Nusantara Arts is a 501c3 organization in Buffalo with the mission to invite our community to an expansive experience in music and art, sparking dialogue about inclusion and cooperation.