Gamelan Gita Asmara was founded in 1996 by Michael Tenzer, professor of music at UBC. Using a new kind of Balinese gamelan set called Semaradana, the groupís 25 members learn traditional and contemporary Balinese repertoire on an intensive schedule of 6-8 hours weekly practice. For performances the group is often joined by expert Balinese musicians and dancers, who are flown from Bali or other residencies in North America. From its beginnings as a student ensemble, the group has steadily attracted a core group of permanent members who bring long-term focus and dedication to rehearsal and performance. Over the past several years Gita Asmara commissioned several new works from its first guest artistic director Dewa Ketut Alit (in residence 2001-04); flourishing under his leadership, the group achieved new levels of ensemble rigor and polish. Vancouver composers Colin MacDonald and Jocelyn Morlock have also contributed new works. Beginning in September 2004 gifted young Balinese multi-instrumentalist and composer Wayan Sudirana succeeded Alit, and the group has grown tremendously since his arrival, in skill, repertoire and unity.
About the Guest Artistic Director
I Wayan Sudirana was born in Ubud, Bali in 1980. He is a graduate of STSI, the Balinese Arts Academy, and a member of the Cudamani arts collective, perhaps the most active and innovative group on the scene in Bali today. He is one of Bali's most gifted young musicians, has composed and taught actively all over the island, and toured abroad several times. In 2004-05 he was UBC's Andrew Fellow of the Dean of Arts.
About the Director
Since the 1980s Michael Tenzer has been one of the most important figures in the international gamelan movement and was the first non-Balinese ever to compose music performed by Balinese gamelan in Bali. He has regularly produced influential compositions there since 1982, closely integrating the techniques of European modern music and Indian music into Balinese musical structures. These works have been cited by Balinese critics as "an important and unique contribution to our cultural heritage". With Wayan Suweca and Rachel Cooper he co-founded Gamelan Sekar Jaya in Berkeley (1979). As composer and lead drummer, he led them on their unprecedented first tour to Bali in 1985, which was the subject of the widely-seen television film "Kembali: To Return". The group still thrives today, and in 2000 was awarded the Dharma Kusuma Award for Cultural Service by the Balinese government, the highest such honor given. Currently Tenzer directs Gamelan Gita Asmara in Vancouver. web site