UCD Staff, Students and Alumni give Concert in Java

In August, a music ensemble including staff, students and alumni of UCD travelled to the island of Java to perform in a major music festival of Indonesian classical music.

The music of Indonesia, known as gamelan music, is performed on an orchestra of bronze gongs and other metallic percussion instruments, along with a number of softer instruments such as the bamboo flute (suling) and plucked zither (siter). The UCD School of Music is home to one of the very few collections of Javanese gamelan instruments in Ireland.

Dr Peter Moran, director of the UCD Gamelan Orchestra, was invited to bring an ensemble to represent Ireland at the first International Gamelan Festival in Java. Performers included Prof. Denis Shields (School of Medicine), Keefe Murphy (Doctoral Candidate, School of Mathematics and Statistics), as well as current undergraduate Amy Shields and alumni Isabel Nolan, Sarah Walshe and Zach Parkinson from the School of Music.

The ensemble's whole performance was extremely well received:

Indonesia's national weekly magazine, Tempo, described how the group “truly captured the audience's attention” (Tempo, 2 September 2018, p65), while one festival organiser cited this ensemble as a great example of how the foreign gamelan orchestras at the festival  were able to “mesmerise” audiences with their “competent and holistic understanding of gamelan”.

The orchestra's programme included original compositions by Dr. Moran and Prof. Shields alongside recitals of classical Javanese repertoire. But the greatest appreciation was surely reserved for their rendition of the popular Javanese song Prau Layar, which closed the set with the festival audience enthusiastically cheering and singing along.

In an interview with BBC Indonesia, Dr. Moran described the performance as a "very special moment."