Intercultural Residency Series
Biographies – Gamelan Residency
Henry Spiller is an ethnomusicologist whose research focuses on Sundanese music and dance from West Java, Indonesia. He is interested particularly in investigating how individuals deploy music and dance in their personal lives to articulate ethnic, gender, and national identities. He has studied Sundanese music and dance for more than 30 years, and he has conducted fieldwork in Bandung, West Java, on many occasions. ABC–CLIO published his first book, Gamelan: The Traditional Sounds of Indonesia, in 2004. It was named and Outstanding Academic Title by CHOICE. His monograph, Erotic Triangles: Sundanese Dance and Masculinity in West Java, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010, received Honorable Mention for the 2011 Alan Merriam Prize, the Society for Ethnomusicology's most prestigious book award. His latest book, titled Javaphilia: American Love Affairs with Javanese Music and Dance (University of Hawai'i Press, 2015) chronicles the careers and motivations of twentieth-century North Americans who were attracted to Javanese music and dance to develop a better understanding of American orientalisms and the subtleties of identity formations. Spiller's articles and book chapters appear in publications such as The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Asian Music, Worlds of Music, Asian Theatre Journal, and Journal of the Society for American Music. He has presented papers at regional and national meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), the Association for Theatre Arts (ATA), the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), and the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD). Spiller holds a bachelor's degree in music from UC Santa Cruz, a master's degree in harp performance from Holy Names College, and a master's degree and the PhD in ethnomusicology from UC Berkeley. He taught gamelan at Mills College in Oakland, California, and music at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. From 2002 to 2005 he served as Luce Assistant Professor in Asian Music and Culture at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
Phil Acimovic is a composer of modern concert music, performer of Javanese Gamelan, and creator of sound installations. He has been playing classical Javanese music for 10 years and lived for over 2 years in Central Java, Indonesia with the support of two Darmasiswa Scholarships from the Indonesian government. He is a longtime member of Gamelan Laras Tentrem in Boston, and currently plays with Gamelan Sari Raras in Berkeley, CA. Acimovic also directs Gamelan Lebdo Budoyo, a student gamelan ensemble at UC Davis. His compositions include works for orchestra, string quartet, percussion quartet, and various mixed chamber ensembles. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in theory and composition at UC Davis and works closely with composer Kurt Rohde.
Wakidi Dwidjomartono was born in 1947 in Jagalan, Solo, and is one of the most respected and senior drummers in Solo. Having an extensive background across many sectors of performance practice, he began his career as a dance drummer, and was then the drummer at Sriwedari Wayang Orang Theater during its golden era in the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s he was a highly sought-after drummer for shadow puppet plays and has now settled into the concert music (klenèngan) repertory.
Cendhani Laras is a leading vocalist for traditional Javanese music. She appears on numerous commercial recordings and is a longtime member of the Kraton Kasunanan, the leading royal court in Surakarta, Central Java. Cendhani is known for her sweet vocal timbre and her masterful grasp of the classical repertory.
Professor Harjito of Wesleyan University in Connecticut is acknowledged as one of the foremost musicians and composers of gamelan music in the world today. In addition to teaching at Wesleyan University, he is also a visiting professor of music at Brown University, the University of Chicago, and at the New York City Gamelan. He is also a regular guest artist at concerts of gamelan music throughout the United States and around the world. He has composed many traditional and contemporary pieces for gamelan, including collaborations with tap dance, symphony and chamber orchestra, bagpipes and jazz.
Darsono Hadiraharjo is perhaps the foremost karawitan musician of the younger generation in Central Java. He regularly performs in shadow plays, dance performances, and klenèngan. Darsono hails from one of the great musical families still thriving today. He studied music with his family, at the music conservatory, and at the Mangkunegaran palace.
Mulyono is a highly sought-after singer who performs with some of the leading gamelan groups in Java. He is known for his strong singing voice, imbuing the music with a robust energy. Mulyono is the elder brother of Darsono Hadiraharjo.
Sularno & Paimin are brothers from a musical family hailing from Surakarta, Central Java. They are long time members of the musical ensemble of the Mangkunegaran palace, one of the royal courts of Surakarta. They also play with Pujangga Laras, a monthly gathering of master musicians keeping alive the Javanese concert music tradition.
Professor Sumarsam has played Javanese gamelan since childhood. He is also a keen amateur dhalang (puppeteer) of wayang puppet play. His research on the history, theory, and performance practice of gamelan and wayang, and on Indonesia-Western encounter theme has resulted in the publication of numerous articles and two books: GAMELAN: CULTURAL INTERACTION AND MUSICAL DEVELOPMENT IN CENTRAL JAVA (1995) and JAVANESE GAMELAN AND THE WEST (2013). His recent research focuses on the intersections between religion and performing arts. Examining discourses of transculturalism, the performing arts, and Islam among the Javanese, Sumarsam will carry out field and archival research in Indonesia, under the auspicious of NEH and ACLS fellowship grant (2016-17).