Commissioned for Gamelan Semara Ratih by the International Gamelan Festival and the Amsterdam Tropenmuseum
First performance: September 9, 2010, International Gamelan Festival, Tropentheater, Amsterdam, Netherlands - Gamelan Semara Ratih, A.A. Anom Putra, director
Recording: Gamelan Semara Ratih at the Ubud Pura Dalem (Death Temple), March 2011 - as yet unreleased
Score not yet published - please email me for more information
Lapanbelas ("18") was composed and taught without notation to the traditional gamelan Semara Ratih, at their sanggar in Ubud, Bali. An homage to Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, it follows the general narrative arc of that seminal work, and returns to the gamelan Reich's characteristic gestures - interlocking patterns, additive and composite elodies, and rhythmic phasing - many of which Reich himself learned through his studies of non-western music (cf. Reich's essay Postcript to a Study of African and Balinese Music). The harmonies and melodies are original, meant to attune the ear to the stunning array of non-tempered pitches and inharmonic overtones of Semara Ratih's instruments. The resemblance to Reich's masterpiece is thus formal and gestural, not literal or affective.
I was able in this piece to bring together two huge influences on my music - classic minimalism and traditional Balinese gamelan. What moved me most however was the commitment and enthusiasm of the members of Semara Raith, who gave generously of their time and went wherever I asked them go musically. After the premiere, they respectfully asked me if I would 'allow' them to continue performing the piece - it has since become a regular part of their repertoire, both in secular and sacred contexts. After the Japanese catastrophe of 2011, they renamed the piece TsunamiI and played it for the Japanese Ambassador. For me, having a Balinese group performing my original music in a temple ceremony is beyond anything I could ever have expected. I continue to be grateful to A.A. Anom Putra and the members of the group for this singular honor.