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Gamelan 10th season ends with two world premieres

Members of Gamelan Galak Tika pose for a group photo.
Members of Gamelan Galak Tika pose for a group photo.

MIT's Gamelan Galak Tika, winner of a 2003 Laya and Jerome Wiesner Award for achievement in the creative and performing arts, ends its 10th-anniversary season with a world premiere by resident artist and guest director Dewa Ketut Alit, Bali's most innovative young composer. In addition to traditional Balinese music and dance, the concert will feature the world premiere of a work by group member Sean Mannion.

The concert takes place on Saturday, May 31 at 7 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Tickets are $8 (general) and $4 (students and seniors), and free for members of the MIT community and children under 12.

This commission from Dewa Ketut Alit is the latest manifestation of the MIT gamelan's mission to bring modern Balinese composition and dance to Boston audiences. At the age of 29, Alit is at the forefront of Bali's new generation of composers. Hailing from a family of musicians and dancers, he is co-founder and director of the acclaimed Cudamani Gamelan of Pengosekan Village. His compositions are featured on that group's recently released CD, and he has also appeared in the United States with Gamelan Sekar Jaya and Wayang Listrik.

Alit collaborated on the piece with I Nyoman Catra, one of Bali's most respected dancers and choreographers. A co-founder of Gamelan Galak Tika (GGT), he is currently completing his doctorate in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University.

Cynthia Laksawana, director of dance for GGT, and Desak Made Suarti Laksmi will dance the premiere. Also a co-founder of GGT, Laksmi has performed internationally as a dancer, musician and composer. She is currently the Luce Professor of Balinese Music, Theatre and Dance at Holy Cross.

'Wayang' on June 7

Several members of GGT will also take part in a presentation of traditional Balinese wayang (shadow puppetry) performed by renowned dalang I Wayan Wija and the MIT G'nder Club on Saturday, June 7 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Killian Hall.

Wija has reinvigorated this ancient art form through his inventive puppet designs, incorporation of Balinese folk tales and cross-cultural collaborations. The wayang features elaborately carved puppets behind a backlit screen to illustrate a story from the Mahabharata, Hinduism's most revered epic.

G'nder Club was formed by members of GGT interested in studying and performing the intricate and enchanting gender wayang repertoire. This virtuosic ensemble provides the musical accompaniment to the dalang's narration.

For more information on these concerts, call 452-2302 or see

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 21, 2003.

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