Gamelan Tunas Mekar
Gamelan Tunas Mekar
Based in Denver, Gamelan Tunas Mekar is a community ensemble under the direction of Balinese composer and artist-in-residence I Made Lasmawan. Modeled after typical village groups found throughout Bali, and learning by traditional methods, this community ensemble provides American audiences the rare opportunity to experience one of the world’s most beautiful and sophisticated performing art forms.
Founded in 1988, Gamelan Tunas Mekar plays the vibrant music of Bali that traditionally accompanies temple festivals, traditional life-cycle rites, and recreational events. The group began under the tutelage of Wayne Vitale, director of the large community gamelan Sekar Jaya based in El Cerrito, California. In 1990, the group was named by I Ketut Madri, a musician from the village of Pengosekan in central Bali. As the group’s first Balinese teacher, he was asked to provide a name, and his choice was appropriate. “Tunas” means a stored bit of life force, such as a seed of a floral bud, and “Mekar” means to put forth. This name has given the group its sense of identity: a wayward seed, blown far from the parent plant and landing on unfamiliar soil, that has nonetheless produced an amazing flower.
In August of 1993, Gamelan Tunas Mekar was dedicated in a traditional ceremony by I Made Lasmawan, Balinese master drummer and artist-in-residence with the group since 1992. The current ensemble, under the instruction of Lasmawan, is comprised of both professional musicians and non-professional students of gamelan music. True to its name, the influence of Gamelan Tunas Mekar in bringing Pak Made to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States has brought to life a number of college and university gamelan ensembles (all directed by Pak Made), including a Gamelan Tunjung Sari at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Gamelan Candra Wyoga at the University of Wyoming at Laramie, Gamelan Genta Kencana at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Gamelan Manik Kusuma at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Gamelan Tunas Mekar presents traditional and new music for Balinese gamelan at music festivals, schools, private events, local venues, specially produced concerts, and by special invitation both nationally and internationally.