Bali, Indonesia: Summer 2013 Study Abroad

by Prof. Brent Talbot

We began our tour in Denpasar (the capital city) where we attended the Bali Arts Festival for five days and saw incredible performances of dance, shadow puppetry, and gamelan music. While in Denpasar, we connected with I Ketut Gede Asnawa (Professor of music at University of Illinois). "Pak" Asnawa and his family greeted us upon arrival and helped organize part of our tour. I worked closely with Asnawa during my time as a visiting professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Pak Asnawa and his wife, Putu Oka Mardiani were here in the fall as part of a cross-campus residency on gamelan music and dance as well as Hindu religion. He guest lectured in the Theatre, Education, and Religious Studies departments. He also helped us put together a full gamelan concert at the Heritage Music Festival last fall.  

BaliAfter Denpasar, we headed to Robert E. Brown's old estate, Flower Mountain, just north of Ubud. Robert E. Brown was a famous ethnomusicologist who founded the center for world music and left his estate to the center after his death. His estate now houses many instruments and some accommodations for groups like ours to come and study. You can check out more at The students and I spent 10 days at Flower Mountain learning Gamelan Angklung (which we have on our campus - 13th century sacred music), Gamelan Gong Kebyar (20th century flashy music), and traditional Balinese dance.  The students were in rehearsal 6 hours a day and learned from Wayan Budha and Wayan Rachman. Wayan Rachman is an alumnus of Gettysburg College and was on our campus from 1999-2002. His wife, Ketut, taught the dance classes. Wayan Rachman helped organize most of our transportation around the island.  During our stay at Flower Mountain, we were given private concerts of various musical arts. We also were able to attend a cremation ceremony, a wedding, and an Odalan (or temple ceremony).

BaliAfter Flower Mountain, we headed to I. Nyoman Suadin's home in Banjar Wani in Kerambitan. We spent five days in Nyoman's village. Nyoman was the person who introduced me to Gamelan during my time as a doctoral student at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. Nyoman is the gamelan teacher there as well as, Swarthmore College, University of Maryland, and Bard College. Nyoman also performed the blessing ceremony for our gamelan at Gettysburg when it arrived in the spring of 2010. During our time at Nyoman's house, we embarked on a photo voice project.  Students paired up with villagers to explore the important parts of their daily lives. They gave their cameras to villagers to take pictures of things that were important and common to their daily routines. Then they selected the photos together and narrated their importance. Students spent considerable amount of time researching and collaborating with the Banjar Wani citizens. Together we are creating a book that tells the stories of village life in Banjar Wani, Kerambitan, Bali, Indonesia. The book will be printed and sold and all proceeds will go to a scholarship fund for college bound students in the village. Additionally students worked on NPR-esque investigative radio reports. They recorded sounds and chose topics related to language, culture, immigration, and music in Bali. Their radio reports will be aired on our campus radio station this upcoming year.