Gamelan Ensemble

Formed in 1979 and currently headed by Emiko Saraswati Susilo, Gamelan Sekar Jaya is a sixty-member company of musicians and dancers, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in the performing arts of Bali. The company’s music and dance range from traditional Balinese repertory to contemporary compositions. The musicians and dancers of Gamelan Sekar Jaya play on several sets of Balinese instruments, consisting of various combinations of bronze-keyed metallophones, bamboo marimbas, gongs, drums, and flutes. Gamelan Sekar Jaya is renowned for its exploration of traditional and modern forms through long-term residencies with Bali's finest musicians and dancers. The company has sponsored the creation of more than eighty new works by Balinese and American artists, which investigate contemporary life, explore cultural intersections, and illuminate themes of gender and ethnic identity. Gamelan Sekar Jaya has also carried out successful collaborations with ensembles and organizations such as the Oakland East Bay Symphony, California Symphony, Crosspulse, ShadowLight, Abhinaya, Chitresh Das, and Destiny Arts. Gamelan Sekar Jaya is the only foreign group to ever receive the Dharma Kusuma, Bali's highest award for artistic achievement. The group will reconnect with its artistic roots by touring Bali and appearing at the Bali Arts Festival in July 2014.

Emiko Saraswati Susilo (Company Director) is a dancer, vocalist, and choreographer. Ms. Susilo began teaching Balinese dance twenty-two years ago and seventeen years ago became a founding member of Çudamani, of which she is now Associate Director. She joined Gamelan Sekar Jaya as a student of dance and gamelan in 1991 and previously served as the ensemble’s guest dance director. Her recent piece, Legong Somya, which took on the Balinese search for spiritual peace after widespread massacres in the 1960s, was premiered in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Ms. Susilo has spent more than a decade in Bali working to increase opportunities for young women to play gamelan.

I Dewa Putu Berata (Guest Music Director) is a renowned musician, composer, dancer, and visual artist from Bali, Indonesia. A graduate of STSI Denpasar (Bali’s National Academy of the Arts), Mr. Berata has joined Gamelan Sekar Jaya on several residencies in the past. He is the founder and director of the Balinese gamelan ensemble Çudamani, which recently engaged in its tenth major international tour, including appearances at the Cultural Olympiad in Greece, the Japan EXPO, Tong Tong Festival in Holland, Lincoln Center, Juilliard, the World Festival of Sacred Music, and at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.

(June 2014)

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