Gamelan Angklung Project

The Philadelphia Folklore Project has recently identified the Indonesian community – concentrated in South Philadelphia – as a community with which we would like to develop deeper relationships and establish some collaborative programs. PFP, along with Modero and Company (Philadelphia-based Indonesian dance ensemble which I founded), wants to hold a ten-week series of lessons in Balinese gamelan angklung (percussion orchestra) in the fall of 2019. This will be the first opportunity ever for this eight-year-old dance company to nurture local live musical accompaniment, which is so central to the traditional performance practice. Donations given to PFP will support these first steps toward creating a gamelan ensemble in Philadelphia’s Indonesian community.

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About the Gamelan Project

Tom Whitman (left on gendang/drum) at the Gamelan Semara Santi Concert

This ten-week series will be taught by Tom Whitman. Composer and musician Thomas Whitman first studied Indonesian music as a Luce Scholar in Bali in 1986-7 under Balinese master musician I Madé Gerindem. Whitman subsequently earned a Ph.D. in Music from the University of Pennsylvania, and has continued to study Balinese music on numerous research trips to Indonesia as well as with his current teacher in the United States, I Nyoman Suadin. Whitman has taught at Swarthmore College since 1990. There he founded Gamelan Semara Santi, the Philadelphia area’s only Indonesian gamelan in 1997, and he has co-directed it ever since. He has also served as a volunteer music teacher in elementary schools in underserved communities.