In 1966, Professor of Musicology William Malm bought a gamelan for the University of Michigan. Housed under the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments, the gamelan was named Kyai Telaga Madu (Venerable Lake of Honey) and became the project of Judith Becker, who set about learning how to play each instrument. In 1968, the U-M Gamelan Ensemble was formed under Becker’s directorship. Susan Pratt Walton took over directing the ensemble in 1990 and introduced the music, dance, and puppetry of Central Java to the stage in Ann Arbor. Our gamelan program often features performances by eminent Javanese artists-in-residence. Since 1968, the ensemble has also explored new music composed for gamelan, helped in the training of an important generation of scholars of Southeast Asian music, and exposed students from all areas of the university to the vibrant culture of Indonesia.
Gamelan Composition in the U.S. by Nathinee Chucherwatanasak, PhD pre-cadidate in musicology at the University of Michigan. Her research interests are in the area of composition and performance of contemporary Western art music in Southeast Asia.