June 8 – 17, 2018
Indonesia # Bronze.Bamboo.Beats

International Gamelan Music Festival Munich

The Gamelan is a musical ensemble hailing from the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali, commonly thought of simply as vacation resorts. Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was the first, in the world of Western music, to recognize the highly developed culture that underpinned this percussion orchestra when he experienced Javanese gamelan performances at the World Exposition in Paris in 1889. In “Pagodes”, he even makes musical reference to the Javanese gamelan. After this, gamelan music started to receive serious attention in the West. By a happy coincidence, the “International Gamelan Festival” is taking place in Munich to mark the centenary of Debussy’s death. Thanks to generous support from the Cultural Department of the City of Munich in theFederal State of Bavaria, the Münchner Stadtmuseum is proud to host the “International Gamelan Festival” in Munich from June 8-17, 2018. Specially selected groups and artists of international renown will present their very different artistic approaches to the cultures of Bali and Java. A “gamelan scene” has been active at the Müncher Stadtmuseum for over 30 years. In 1986, a full set of gamelan instruments from Central Java was created and tuned to the slendro and pelog scales for the Music Collection and subsequently installed in the Münchner Stadtmuseum. Since that time, over 20,000 people have experienced this sophisticated musical culture directly through tours and workshops.

Playing the calung bass metallophone © Fotini Potamia
Dancer and choreographer Aafke de Jong, one of the world’s leading exponents of Balinese legong kraton dance, pictured here performing the oleg tambulilingan dance at the Music Collection in 2017 © Fotini Potamia
Instruments from the Music Collection’s “kyai dipa” Javanese gamelan (e.g. bonang – kethuk –kendhang – kenong) © Münchner Stadtmuseum
Small bossed gong hanging in a carved gilt wooden frame from Balinese gamelan, ca. 1990, © András Varsányi

About the Festival

The kick-off event of the festival takes place at the Münchner Stadtmuseum’s Film Museum on the evening before the festival officially opens. On June 7, 2018, at 7 pm, there is a screening of “Shadowmaster” by Larry Reed (1979), and “Les couleurs du divin” by Anne Caracache and Jacques Fassola with Madé Trip, in the original with English subtitles and with an introduction by András Varsányi.

On Friday, June 8, 2018, the festival officially opens, ushered in by an unusual open-air concert at the Mariahilfplatz. The Mariahilf church has had the largest carillon in southern Germany since 2012, and the sound of its 64 bronze bells will interact with that of a Balinese gamelan, also cast in bronze. The gamelan will be installed on Mariahilfplatz. Indonesian composers Dewa Ketut Alit from Bali and Iwan Gunawan from West Java have written their own pieces for the event, which will be performed by the 35 musicians of the “Gamelan Salukat” and “Kyai Fatahillah” ensembles. The compositions were made possible through the generous support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

Later, a Balinese procession with loud baleganjur music will lead the way to the Münchner Stadtmuseum, where the Indonesian Minister of Culture and the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia will officially open the “International Gamelan Festival: Indonesia # Bronze.Bamboo.Beats”.

The opening concert will include both traditional and more contemporary music, performed by “Puspa Githa Pertiwi” from the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin, “Gamelan Salukat” from Bali and “Kyai Fatahillah” from West Java, alongside “Tingklik & India”, a smaller group which combines bamboo percussion (tingklik) with virtuoso South Indian percussion techniques. The concert also features world-famous Balinese guitarist Balawan with his “Batuan Ethnic Fusion” band, playing a virtuoso Bali Groove. In total contrast, the concert features performances by the “Jegog Art Projects” group from Bali with giant bamboo tubes, the German rock band “Eclipse Sol-Air” and DJ Ferdinand Grätz aka Ferdinger.


The exhibition, which precedes the festival by opening on May 17, 2018, with an evening concert, offers a foretaste of the festival itself. It presents 15 different types of gamelan ensembles from Java and Bali, each with audio examples. Highlights include the beautiful GAMELATRON, a “robotic gamelan”, installed by prominent artist and inventor Aaron Taylor Kuffner (New York) that creates its own unique sound space.

Pride of place in the Music Collection’s extensive inventory of instruments from non-European musical cultures goes to different gamelan instruments. Gamelan is an umbrella term for a large number of ensembles from the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali, whose most striking instruments include suspended and horizontal gongs, metallophones and animal-hide drums. Gamelan musical culture is unique in that it only works as an ensemble. The exhibition rooms will also screen films from and about Bali showing how the instruments are made.

Festival program


The two-day public symposium on June 9-10, offers an opportunity to bring together some of the most famous gamelan experts and ethnomusicologists, while offering anyone who wants to learn deeper insights into the musical thought and aesthetics of other cultures. The symposium focuses on the attraction to music from other cultures in general and the gamelan tradition in particular. Most of the 18 speakers also lead the ensembles appearing at the Munich 2018 gamelan festival. Each speaker will give a 20-minute presentation on how they personally were drawn to gamelan music, illustrating their own artistic work with audiovisuals to show how it has been influenced by the gamelan.

The symposium also addresses issues relating to the environment within which Western musicians first became aware of gamelan, how they played it, Western research into this topic and even, in some cases, compositions in this idiom. This will offer some insight into the culture of origin and its cultural standards at a particular moment in time. One perspective will be that of the “donor culture”, with Balinese and Javanese musicians and composers giving their points of view. This will allow new compositions to be presented as part of the festival, interleaved with traditional performances, thereby fostering a deeper understanding of what can be seen as a “gentle cultural migration”. The individual approaches and standpoints taken by the speakers contribute to making this symposium a colorful reflection of a very living and fascinating musical culture undergoing a transformation. The symposium will be in English.

Cultural education and workshops

From June 12, 2018, workshops will be held daily from 10 am for groups and interested individuals, particularly school and college students. Participants will be able to immerse themselves in this form of music under the direction of prominent gamelan musicians and enjoy the pleasure of interactive playing. Advanced gamelan musicians will be able to work intensively with the gamelan experts in open workshops. In total, 28 workshop appointments are available.


In all, twenty groups with a total of 300 participants will present gamelan music in 40 performances at six different venues over an 11-day period. During this time, 11 new compositions will be premiered alongside performances of traditional music and dance. Many of the new compositions have been commissioned and funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. The Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts will host a concert with works by composer and gamelan specialist Prof. Dieter Mack on June 11, 2018. Rich and challenging chamber music will follow on June 12, 2018, in Studio 2 at Bayerischer Rundfunk, with a special gamelan put together by four musicians from the Lightbulb Ensemble from San Francisco, USA, performing “Dauh Tukad” by Wayne Vitale alongside three Munich musicians. Gamelan can also be seen in performance at the Orff Centre in Munich and the Carl Orff Auditorium at the Gasteig. On June 17, 2108, the closing day, several concerts will be held in different parts of the Münchner Stadtmuseum a finale offering an experience akin to a promenade concert .

The museum is proud to host a further highlight, a five-hour performance of a traditional wayang kulit (shadow-puppet theatre) by the London group, Southbank Gamelan Players, who will accompany the dhalang (shadow puppetmaster), Ki Sujarwo Joko Prehatin from Klaten in Central Java, with the traditional music of the Central Javan gamelan.

Many semiprofessional groups are due to attend from all over Europe: Yogistragong from Lissabon, Penempaan Guntur from Barcelona, Puspawarna from Paris, Gong Lila Cita from London, Gong Swara Santi from Amstelveen, Baleganjur Balagita from Graz, Gamelan Bremen and Suara Nakal from Leipzig. A group bringing together performers from Anggur Jaya from Freiburg and Cara Bali from Munich will play, among others, a composition by Sinta Wullur from Amsterdam (also supported by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation) on a chromatic “gamelan multifoon” and Balinese gong kebyar.

Gong Tirta from Amsterdam will offer a special children’s performance entitled “A frog in the palace?” This play is a sequel to the frog king fairy tale and focuses on the themes of tolerance and diversity among groups of people.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to the many supporters, without whose help the festival would not have been possible:

The Government of the Republic of Indonesia and its Embassy in Berlin, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, Heike Lies of the Cultural Department of the city of Munich, Prof. Christine Dettmann of the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich, Karin Sommer of Villa Waldberta, Peter Michael Hamel of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, Susanne Schmerda of Bayerischer Rundfunk, Dr. Thomas Rösch of the Orff-Centre Munich and the Friends of Münchner Stadtmuseum.

A further vote of thanks is due to everyone who has loaned us gamelan instruments: Sinta Wullur in Amsterdam, Charlie Richter in Lörrach, Roger Kausch in Munich, Klaus Haunschmidt in Obergrünburg / Austria, Michael Niebauer in Schwindegg,Ivanildo Kowsoleea and the Mühldorf Music School a.I., the Basel Museum of Cultures and the Rumah Budaya Indonesia in Berlin.

Special thanks are due to Juri Chervinski and the Kulturzentrum Gorod, which, besides providing accommodation to our Indonesian guests has also made its performance venues and ballet room available to the many groups for rehearsal, and whose large kitchen and affordable prices are of inestimable assistance. Of course, our heartiest thanks are also due to the many volunteers who are so essential to the organization of such a major festival.


Advance ticket sales from May 3, 2018 for the
concerts at Münchner Stadtmuseum | Gasteig | Bayerischer Rundfunk

via München Ticket at www.muenchenticket.de
Ticket prices: €11, reduced €5, remaining tickets at the evening box office

Concerts at the Orff-Zentrum München:
Ticket prices: €10, reduced €5 / Call the Orff-Zentrum München
on phone +49-(0989-288105-0 or email: kontakt(at)orff-zentrum.de

Public workshops at the Münchner Stadtmuseum:
Participation including admission: €7, reduced €5,

Booking for group workshops at the Münchner Stadtmuseum:
Admission: €4, reduced €2, free for school and college groups
Workshop: €90
please register by email: fuehrung.stadtmuseum(at)muenchen.de

Gamelan exhibition at the Münchner Stadtmuseum
Admission: €4, reduced €2; persons under 18 free

Festival program

for  download (pdf, 3,5 MB)