Gamelan concert series aims to create awareness in marine conservation


The 'Gema Gamelan' showcase series sees Rhythm In Bronze returning to the stage on May 3-6 in KL with a new project highlighting seagrass protection and marine conservation. Photo: Rhythm in Bronze

Get ready to be swept off your feet by the captivating rhythms and melodies of Rhythm In Bronze, the award-winning contemporary gamelan ensemble that is back with a new mission to promote environmental awareness through the performing arts.

The pioneering gamelan group’s focus is to shine the light on the importance of seagrass.

As part of the process, the ensemble participated in an innovative “Immersive Lab” to gain inspiration and a deeper understanding of the significance of seagrass to the environment and community, as well as the challenges to its survival.

Rhythm In Bronze will stage a long-awaited performance Gema Gamelan at Bobo KL in Bangsar on May 3-6. These club shows will then be followed by a seagrass conservation-themed concert at KLPac’s Pentas 2 on Aug 25-27.

This will be its first public performances since 2018.

Ooi’s inspiration is largely drawn from her field trips to collect research samples and she would jot down notes, and later translate them into music on the gamelan. Photo: Bernama Ooi’s inspiration is largely drawn from her field trips to collect research samples and she would jot down notes, and later translate them into music on the gamelan. Photo: Bernama

The aim is to engage the audience at a sensory level through the resonating rhythms of the gamelan percussion, to provoke emotional reactions and spark conversation on environmental conservation, particularly on the importance of seagrass.

The group, founded in 1997, is now led by artistic and music director Jillian Ooi, and executive producer Sharmini Ratnasingam, with a team of 10 gamelan musicians and two guest drummers.

Ooi, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya (UM) and a seagrass ecologist and marine biologist, is a recipient of the Pew fellowship in marine conservation. This upcoming performance is part of her Pew marine fellowship project to promote awareness on the seagrass ecosystem and environment.

“Despite being a lecturer and marine science researcher, my passion towards gamelan is strong and whenever I’m free, I would go for rehearsals together with my colleagues to sharpen my skills,” she said in a recent Bernama interview, adding that Rhythm In Bronze comprises multi-ethnic members from various professional backgrounds, including scientists, lecturers, lawyers, and engineers.

Rhythm In Bronze’s gong player Amira Farhana Ahmad Hamidi seen during a rehearsal session. Photo: Bernama Rhythm In Bronze’s gong player Amira Farhana Ahmad Hamidi seen during a rehearsal session. Photo: Bernama

“Whenever I dive underwater, I could hear various sounds coming from fishes, shrimps, and other marine life, which gave me a calming effect and a sense of freedom.

“To me, the Malay gamelan instrument is synonymous with rhythmic patterns that emulate the sound of ocean waves. It not only evokes fond memories spent in the field, but also has the potential to raise awareness about the critical need to conserve marine life,” she added.

Ooi’s inspiration is largely drawn from her field trips to collect research samples and she would jot down notes, and later translate them into music on the gamelan.

“In fact, quite a lot of our gamelan performances have revolved around the natural environment, especially those related to marine science and the ocean.

Sharmini (right) readying up Rhythm In Bronze for the live stage this week at Bobo KL. Photo: BernamaSharmini (right) readying up Rhythm In Bronze for the live stage this week at Bobo KL. Photo: Bernama

Arus Gangsa, our last production in 2014, presented a collection of nine new compositions revolving around the theme of water. The pieces included new compositions that told stories of love, devotion and retribution, all linked to the beauty and power of water and its various forms,” she said.

Ooi notes that despite seagrass being a vital part of the marine ecosystem (for instance, it is a nursing ground for juvenile fish and crustaceans), there is a lack of appreciation for seagrass.

The Gema Gamelan showcase series will serve as a timely restart on the live stage for Rhythm In Bronze, which is the first Malaysian ensemble to create contemporary concert performances exclusively using the gamelan.

It is also a recipient of the 2022 music performance grant from MyCreative Ventures, an agency under the ministry of communications and digital Malaysia.

More info here.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!
   

Next In Culture

Van Gogh Museum showcases kindred Canadian-Chinese artist Matthew Wong
Weekend for the arts: 'Sang Kancil & Dragon King' musical, art of 'Consent'
Journey through Malaysian art songs in 'Merdu Puisi'
New writers set to shine on Penang stage, exploring love's many shades
Museum visitors to get first sight of King Charles banknotes
West Bank museum showcases Gaza 'artistic demonstration' against war
M'sian Philharmonic Orchestra set for magical evening of keroncong and ghazal
War-themed murals in Kyiv honour Ukraine’s fallen soldiers
A majority of Gen Z believe they have what it takes to write self-help books
E-book lending boom in US pits publishers against libraries

Others Also Read