A 602 Club Pick of the Week: Gamelan at Stansbury Hall

Saturday, March 7
Stansbury Hall
Lawrence University
Appleton, Wisconsin  

Listen to an interview with director I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana
and members of the community gamelan ensemble:

Soon after we moved to Appleton, I met a tall gaunt man buying sausage at Jacob’s Market who turned out to be the dean of the Lawrence University music conservatory.  Later, we recognized each other on the street outside Harmony Café.  He advised I buy tickets for that evening’s show at the Performing Arts Center: Kaleidoscope, a showcase of ensembles from the conservatory, playing in succession from different parts of the theatre, with no applause until the very end. 

The grand curtain opened and there rose the most magical sounds.  From where could this ringing music have come, the instruments red and gold, the musicians topped with ornamental head wraps, this mesmerizing complexity of wondrous sound?  I decided right then I had to find a way to join the group. 

I searched the university’s web site and was eventually put in touch with Sonja Downing, an ethnomusicologist, married to I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana, the Balinese director of the group.  She said that they were hoping to form a community gamelan ensemble and I said put me on the list.  The next summer, my friend Jenn sent me a link to a four day world music seminar the university was hosting and that she would watch my kids if I wanted to go.  It was so generous I couldn’t turn her down.  There I met Tad and Janet and Barbara.  We spent an afternoon learning about gamelan from Sonja and Dewa.  And then we all signed up for the community ensemble.

You never know where a chance meeting might lead.

Alvina, Dewa, Audrey, and Sonja at the kajar


  1. Nice. My mantra is say yes to the invitations the universe sends to you. Your friend Jenn was acting on behalf of the universe when she offered to take care of the kids, and you got to say yes to the whole experience because of her (and because you're not afraid to try new things) — and because of that chance meeting with the dean of the music conservatory and your initial infatuation with the music. Lots of forces at play. I love it when that happens.

  2. One of my fondest memories of Appleton is an afternoon concert in the Lawrence chapel introducing the new gamelan. It reminded me of my first exposure to the music in the Memorial Union concert hall in Madison decades before and to a later event at an open house here in DC at the Indonesian embassy. Thanks for a great broadcast and looking forward to more from City Park Broadcasting.