Our founding and purpose

Gamelan Raga Kusuma was founded in 2007 By Andy McGraw (Associate Professor. University of Richmond) and I Gusti Putu Sudarta (Associate Professor, Indonesian Institute of the Arts). We are a community ensemble. Participation is free and open to the public. Our members come from a variety of backgrounds and we regularly work with and study under master artists from Indonesia.

In 2003 the Balinese composer I Wayan Sadra (a mentor to both McGraw and Sudarta) told McGraw: “Western classical music is now completely globalized. But aren’t other orchestral traditions equally deserving of study outside their original cultural context? Is it really the case that only Western music can speak to humanity-in-general?” Since the 1980s gamelan has become an increasingly global phenomenon, appreciated and studied throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Gamelan is engineered to be highly inclusive. If you can count to eight and hit a gong (you can), there is a place for you. From there, students can take the tradition to infinite levels of expression and virtuosity. Participation does not require purchasing your own instrument or paying for expensive private lessons. If you can show up to rehearsal, there is a place for you. But gamelan is not just about music; it is a combination of sound, theater, dance and—just as important—snacks! Gamelan bring people together in face-to-face interactions that build up the social and civic infrastructure of their communities.

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