In a first for the Arizona Senior Academy, a gamelan recital will be held in the ASA’s Great Room at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 24). The recital will feature the Tucson-based Fine Stream Gamelan, an ensemble founded in 1988 and still led by Matt Finstrom.
The term gamelan refers to the traditional music of Indonesia, especially Bali and Java. It involves multiple percussion instruments (mettalophones, chimes, drums, cymbals, gongs), along with bamboo flutes, bowed strings and voice. The effects of the music can be jubilant, meditative, rousing, soothing and melodic.
Finstrom has made many of the instruments used by the ensemble and has composed a substantial amount of its repertoire. He has won an award from the Arizona Composer’s Forum. Approximately a dozen musicians will perform a variety of works, including one composed for the 2008 All Soul’s Procession in Tucson. More information and photos may be found at www.gamelanaz.com
It has become quite popular within the last few decades in the Western world, especially within university communities. Finstrom was first introduced to gamelan in the mid-70s as a student at the University of Michigan.
There are good examples of gamelan ensembles on YouTube.
Written by Dennis Anderson, Academy Village Volunteer