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Music Ensemble Pays Tribute to Bali’s Cultural Heritage

Çudamani coming to UCSB Feb. 21

Çudamani dancers perform both traditional and new pieces. Click to view larger
Çudamani dancers perform both traditional and new pieces. (Courtesy photo)

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents Çudamani, one of Bali’s most active and respected musical ensembles, performing Gamelan and Dance of Bali at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in UCSB's Campbell Hall.

Çudamani's musicians and dancers are known for their creativity and artistry, Arts & Lectures said.

The ensemble performs as a spiritual offering for temples and the village communities in their native Indonesia, maintaining the rich treasures of Balinese cultural heritage.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the 24-member ensemble weaves layers of sound, from deep bronze gongs to delicate flute sounds. With traditional Balinese dress, instruments and dance, the group's programs encompass new and classical works.

Members of Çudamani are community leaders who contribute to the artistic, cultural and political life of their community through music and dance.

The group traces its roots to the 1970s, when the children of Pengosekan — a village known for its painters, weavers and musicians – gathered after school to play music in the village balai (pavilion).

Through the years, these independent-minded children formed a new kind of organization that has become a pride of the village, Arts & Lectures said.

Tourism has had a powerful impact on the arts in Bali, particularly so in Ubud, the well-known tourist town just north of Pengosekan.

By the 1990s, most of Ubud's musicians were playing for tourists in lieu of the needs of the community, and members were hired and fired depending on their technical ability, Arts & Lectures said.

The youth of Pengosekan often found themselves working in this system, experiencing the financial benefits of tourism while being aware of the artistic and cultural dangers of this arrangement.

In September 1997, director Dewa Putu Berata, artistic director Dewa Ketut Alit and others from Pengosekan called together a number of talented young people from different areas in Bali to form Sanggar Çudamani, Arts & Lectures said.

Çudamani maintains that the vitality of Balinese arts relies on the connection of performance to spiritual and social life and on the balance between strong roots and brave innovation.

The group is, in many ways, an activist community that responds to the philosophical, practical and problematic issues that face Balinese artists today, Arts & Lectures said.

Çudamani invites master artists to Pengosekan to teach rarely performed repertoire. Members of the group also create new work. Çudamani artists are known for their contributions to the repertoire of Balinese arts.
The group performs a diverse repertoire with technical precision, high collective spirit and artistic nuance, Arts & Lectures said.

Dances performed by the group include the classic legong, rare pieces in the Kebyar genre and new choreography. Çudamani’s musicianship and dance technique add weight to the revival of classic works.

In addition, their efforts demonstrate a respect for and dedication to the senior masters who are too often dismissed as outdated by the young tourist-oriented artists of Bali, Arts & Lectures said.

The dancers’ graceful bodies mirror every musical nuance of the gamelan as they bring to life vivid tales of gods and heroes of Balinese mythology and history, Arts & Lectures said.

Of significance is the set of instruments used by Çudamani — the semarandana.

The tuning system contains “extra” notes that allow the group to perform pieces from distinct gamelan ensembles Angklung, Semar Pegulinganand Gong Kebyar on the same set of instruments.

This allows the group freedom and diversity in its repertoire with the numerous modes and tuning systems each having a distinct atmosphere, color or mood.

Tickets are $25-$40 for the general public, $18 for UCSB students with valid student ID. For tickets and more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures, 893-3535 or visit www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.

Çudamani is presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures; media sponsor is KCSB 91.9 FM.

— Caitlin O'Hara for UCSB Arts & Lectures.


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