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Gamelan concert welcomes leading Japanese musician

The University of Aberdeen is offering a unique opportunity for music lovers to experience the sounds of another culture when Japan’s leading percussion player takes to the stage in a special concert this weekend.

Shadow of the East will be held on Sunday (February 20), featuring Mika Takehara, who will join with the University’s Balinese Gamelan orchestra in a shadow-puppet production of a story from the Ramayana.

The Ramayana is one of the most important literary and oral texts of South Asia. This epic poem provides insights into many aspects of Indian culture and continues to influence the politics, religion and art of modern India.

The University’s Gamelan is one of only four Balinese orchestras in the UK. It consists of tuned bronze gongs, gong-chimes, single octave and multiple octave metallophones, a pair of double-headed drums, bamboo flutes, and a bowed spike lute.

Sunday’s concert will be the first ‘full’ performance of the orchestra since being reformed two years ago. All members of the Aberdeen Gamelan are music students at the University of Aberdeen's School of Education.
Dr Paul Mealor, Lecturer in Music at the University of Aberdeen, said he was delighted to be welcoming a world renowned musician to join the University’s Gamelan orchestra. He said: “Mika’s presence will lift the whole concert onto another level!
“The combination of Japanese percussion, Balinese Gamelan and shadow-puppet theatre will be a unique event, and should not to be missed. Where else, other than in Bali itself, can anyone see this blend of East and West – a true celebration of cultures.’’
Following the concert a collection will be made for the victims of the Asian Tsunami disaster.
Dr Mealor continued: ‘’The home of Gamelan music is Indonesia – a place devastated by the recent Tsunami.
“We felt this concert would be a fitting tribute to the memory of those who lost their lives, their families and their homes.”
Shadows of the East will be held in Elphinstone Hall, University of Aberdeen, on Sunday, February 20, at 7.45pm. Tickets are priced at £7.50 (concession £5) and are available from Aberdeen Box Office, on (01224) 641122 or at the door on the evening until sold out.

Further information on Sunday night’s Shadow of the East performance and on the Ramayana poem is available by contacting Dr Paul Mealor, Lecturer in Music at the University of Aberdeen, on (01224) 274603, or mobile: 07841 425 285, or email: p.mealor@abdn.ac.uk.
More background on the gamelan
In Indonesian traditional thinking the gamelan is sacred and is believed to have supernatural power. Both musician and non-musicians are humble and respectful to the gamelan. Incense and flowers are often offered to the gamelan. It is believed that each instrument in the gamelan is guided by spirits. Thus, the musician has to take off their shoes when they play the gamelan. It is also forbidden to step over any instrument in a gamelan, because it might offend the spirit by doing so. Some gamelan are believed to have so much powers that playing them may exert power over nature. Others may be touched only by persons who are ritually qualified.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Thursday 17th of February 2005

Ref: 1595gamelan

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