Endangered instruments revived as concert serves up fresh dialogue

Diana Wolfe | 30-Oct-2018
Rare' and endangered' are terms usually associated with animals and plants"¦ but they can also be applied to three unique Indonesian musical instruments"”the Bundengan from Central Java and the Rantok, and Gule Gending from Lombok. These instruments are barely heard and played outside of their home regions, much less anywhere else in the world. But now, thanks to the work of musician and composer Bianca Gannon, they're the centrepiece of an immersive, multicultural concert to be held at the Recital Centre in Melbourne on Friday 14 December
Venue: Melbourne Recital Centre
Address: 31 Sturt Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3006
Date: Friday 14 December 2018
Time: 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Ticket: $39/$29
Buy / Ticket: https://www.melbournerecital.com.au/events/2018/the-sound-of-shadows-sugar-coated/
Web: https://www.melbournerecital.com.au/events/2018/the-sound-of-shadows-sugar-coated/
Bianca Gannon, The Sound of Shadows"”Sugar Coated. Photo by Miko Holt.
Rare' and endangered' are terms usually associated with animals and plants"¦ but they can also be applied to three unique Indonesian musical instruments"”the Bundengan from Central Java and the Rantok, and Gule Gending from Lombok. These instruments are barely heard and played outside of their home regions, much less anywhere else in the world.

But now, thanks to the work of musician and composer Bianca Gannon, they're the centrepiece of an immersive, multicultural concert to be held at the Recital Centre in Melbourne on Friday 14 December.

The Sound of Shadows: Sugar Coated will feature three fascinating Indonesian instruments whose primary purpose is not to make music but relates to ancient and contemporary practices of animal husbandry and food production. The Bundengan is a duck herder's rain shield as well as a zither, the Rantok is a large hand-carved timber vessel traditionally used to hull rice through polyrhythmic pounding/drumming and also as a drum to be played by multiple drummers, while the Gule Gending is a set of steel pans used by fairy floss street vendors that are also played in a melodic and rhythmic way similar to gamelan music, with a timbre similar to West Indian steelpan drums.

The few remaining original Rantok are highly sought-after by art collectors and decorators. Because they are made from rare timbers and other materials, and require a craftsman to build, new ones are not often being made, but due to the dedication of artists such as Gannon, these working-class instruments have been revived to be shared with new audiences.

The instruments will be performed by talented musician Gannon and Indonesian musician, Luqmanul Luk' Chakim while the concert will also feature Sindhen (Javanese court style of vocals) by internationally acclaimed Indonesian opera singer, Peni Candra Rini. The musicians' work will be intensified by shadow puppetry with video art by Robert Jarvis and Jean Poole.

The concerts places these endangered Indonesian instruments amid the context of social, political and environmental costs associated with the Indonesian food industry. Contrasting the universal joy of food with the often destructive farm-to-table narrative, artistic director Gannon presents these instruments and their musical traditions in a modern context, asking us what is the bittersweet impact of food production on global societies?

Gannon"”who was born in Canada and raised in Ireland"”is a gifted young musician, composer and artistic director who collaborates with visual artists to create entrancing multi-sensory experiences that present complex art in an accessible way. Critics describe her as a musical explorer' who defies genre and smashes barriers between traditional music and contemporary composition.

She will be donating 50% of the proceeds from this concert to charity* to aid Lombok Earthquake Relief (a series of earthquakes in August killed hundreds of people and levelled tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses).

The Sound of Shadows: Sugar Coated is assisted by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and is presented in conjunction with Multicultural Arts Victoria and Mapping Melbourne.

THE SOUND OF SHADOWS: SUGAR COATED

Who: Bianca Gannon Artistic Director, Composer; performing piano, gamelan and Rantok
Peni Candra Rini Sindhen/Vocalist, Rebab, Rantok
Luqmanul Chakim Bundengan, Rantok, Gule Gending
Robert Jarvis & Sean Healy Video Art
Date: Friday 14 December 2018, 7.30pm
Venue: Primrose Potter Salon
Melbourne Recital Centre, 31 Sturt Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3006
Duration: 1 hour 30 mins (incl. interval and post-concert talk)
Tickets: Tickets: $39 / $29
Bookings: https://www.melbournerecital.com.au/events/2018/the-sound-of-shadows-sugar-coated/

*'Kampung Bahagia Indonesia', part of 'Yayasan Kurnia Medika Jaya' and a programme run by LBH REFORM, a pro bono law firm that does a lot of charity work. Both are building temporary shelters as homes and schools before the rainy season hits (which is usually Oct but experts are predicting January). 

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