Live streamed on June 10, 2023 by UC Davis Music
Pusaka Sunda, directed by Burhan Sukarma, presents a concert of Sundanese music and dance from West Java, Indonesia, featuring guest performers Ani Sukmawati, Rina Oesman, and Yusdiana.
The concert marks the retirement of Henry Spiller, who has taught at UC Davis since 2005, including directing UC Davis’s Gamelan for much of that time. Spiller’s teaching and research focus on the performing arts of West Java. Pusaka Sunda’s performance will feature several of Spiller’s most influential teachers and consultants, including Undang Sumarna (UC Santa Cruz), Burhan Sukarma (Pusaka Sunda), and guest artist Yusdiana (with whom Spiller studied during Fulbright research in West Java, 1998–99).
- Tawakal-Utama (Tembang Sunda)
- Ladrak (Gamelan Degung)
- Ayang-Ayangan (Gamelan Degung)
- Ceurik Rahwana – Leuheung-Leuheung (Tembang Sunda)
- Kapati-pati – Kaleleban – Banda Manusa (Tembang Sunda)
- Ningnang (Gamelan Degung) – Sorog
- Kahayang mah – Ngabungbang (Tembang Sunda)
- Hariring Bandung (Gamelan Degung)
- Lolongkrang – (Gamelan Degung) Dance
Indonesia is a nation with 13,000 islands (of which a few thousand are populated), the fourth largest population in the world, and hundreds of ethnic groups and languages. Indonesia’s second-largest ethnic group is the Sundanese; approximately 30 million Sundanese speakers dominate the modern province of West Java. Sundanese people look back to the medieval West Javanese kingdom of Pajajaran (1333 – 1579) as a homeland and for the roots of Sundanese culture.
The Gamelan ensemble known as Degung (or gamelan degung) consists of hanging bronze gongs, gong chimes, metallophones, drums, and suling (bamboo flute) tuned to a pentatonic scale. Degung developed in the aristocratic regencies of colonial West Java to provide refined, courtly listening music. Since the 1920s, degung has evolved into a more egalitarian, but distinctly Sundanese, genre.
Traditional gamelan pieces usually are cyclical, that is, the end of a musical phrase is also its beginning. Ends of major phrases are marked with strokes of the goong (large hanging gong). Each piece has its own “theme”— a melodic outline that dis- tinguishes the piece from other pieces. None of the musicians actually play the theme literally; each instrumentalist con- structs his or her part by applying variation techniques to the theme. The result is a complex web of polyphony in which the various musical lines come together in unison at rhythmically significant points in the music, only to immediately diverge once again.
Tembang Sunda Vocal Music developed in the latter half of the 19th century in West Java and is still regularly performed today. The ensemble consists of a large zither kacapi indung, a small zither kacapi rincik, a bamboo flute suling and vocalists. The vocalists sing structured poetic verses accompanied by the instrumentalists.
Typically, a medley of songs is performed beginning with sev- eral free-rhythm mamaos songs and ending with a metrical song called panambih. The music is performed in a variety of settings, including at weddings receptions, on the radio, for audio/video recordings, and frequently at small gatherings among friends and musicians in a home. There are annual Tembang Sunda vocal competitions throughout West Java. The two guest singers have both won the most prestigious of these vocal competitions.
Director Burhan Sukarma has a 50-year career as a prolific recording artist, composer and performer. He is known internationally for his improvisational virtuosity on the suling bamboo flute. Burhan’s style of suling playing has influenced all succeeding generations of players in West Java, Indonesia. Burhan has performed, recorded, and taught throughout the world and directed the group Pusaka Sunda for the past 35 years. With remarkable success, Burhan continues to be involved in expanding the repertory of the Gamelan Degung and Tembang Sunda genres of music. His latest compositions are featured on the recently released recordings, “Ningnang” and “Utama”.
Ani Sukmawati is recognized as one of the most sought-after vocalists in West Java. Her vocal range includes performances and recordings in multiple music genres. Ani has won many of the prestigious vocal competitions that are held annually throughout West Java. Her online video performances have hundreds of thousands of viewers from around the world. She has toured internationally and keeps a busy performing and teaching schedule based in Bandung, West Java. She is the featured vocalist on Pusaka Sunda’s recently released recording “Utama”.
Rina Oesman is an award-winning vocalist from Bandung, West Java. She has performed throughout the United States, Southeast Asia, and England. She is a sought-after judge at many of the Tembang Sunda vocal competitions in West Java. From 1989-2011, she studied singing and gamelan degung with the famous Euis Komariah of Jugala.
Yusdiana is an award-winning virtuoso on the kacapi and gamelan degung instruments. He has gained an international reputation through his performances in Europe and Asia. As a first call musician for music competitions, festivals, and national events, he performs frequently on TV Republik Indonesia Bandung and Radio Republik Indonesia. He is featured kacapi player on Pusaka Sunda’s recently released recording “Utama”.
Undang Sumarna is an esteemed Sundanese drummer and educator based in Santa Cruz, California. Since 1976, he has introduced thousands of college students to Sundanese gamelan music through his teaching at University of California, Santa Cruz. He has toured throughout the United States and frequently joins Pusaka Sunda for recordings and performances.
Pusaka Sunda is a West Javanese performing arts group, led by Burhan Sukarma, and based in the San Francisco Bay Area with strong collaborative connections to Bandung, Indonesia. Members of the group are all accomplished musicians who have spent most of their lives learning and performing gamelan music. Founded in 1988, Pusaka Sunda provides a voice for Burhan’s own compositions as well as a means for promulgating the traditional music of West Java. The group has performed all over the United States, toured West Java and produced five recordings of traditional and original music to great acclaim.
Pusaka Sunda musicians: Andrew Bouchard, Ed Garcia, Danni Redding Lapuz, Malaya Redding Lapuz (vocals), Ray Lapuz, Gretchen McPherson, Olivia Sears, Henry Spiller, Rae Ann Stahl, Burhan Sukarma (director)
Dancers: Cia Garcia, Margot Lederer (choreography)