Ki Purbo Asmoro Entertains with Indonesian Art Forms

Michelle Polyak

Javanese master puppeteer Ki Purbo Asmoro will be performing at Oberlin this coming Sunday, March 11, at 7 p.m. in Hales Gymnasium. Asmoro’s performance includes a shadow puppet show along with a musical performance of a gamelan musical troupe of which Asmoro is also a member.

Gamelan music and puppeteering originates from Indonesia, primarily the islands of Bali and Java. These a musical ensemble, employ a variety of and instruments, particularly metallophones, xylophones, kendang, gongs, bamboo flutes and bowed and plucked strings. In addition to playing the show on Sunday, Asmoro will be holding a workshop on Monday, March 12, at 11 a.m. in Hales Gymnasium. The focus of the workshop will be on understanding the connection between wayang (shadow drama) and Gamelan music.

The show is part of a broader effort by the Collage to expose the Oberlin community to an eclectic and underappreciated musical genre. The Oberlin Conservatory has a class on gamelan music titled Indonesian Gong Ensemble and taught by Assistant Professor of ethnomusicology Jennifer Fraser, who specializes in teaching West Sumatran and Javanese Gamelan music. In addition to a course in the Conservatory, the Experimental College offers a class titled Introduction to Javanese Gamelan, taught by College junior Jamie Yelland, in which students learn about the theory and performance of Javanese Gamelan and work in conjunction with the Conservatory ensemble.