Tonight Ergodos was giving us Gamelan based music, and had brought over the Gamelan Sekar Petak orchestra from York to play it for us. Unlike the Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh concert, this was in a backroom of the National Concert Hall (something that looked suspiciously like a small UCD lecture room). The programme started with a stroke of genius, a conceptual piece called 'Anyone Can Play', credited to Jody Diamond. One of the festival organisers invited random members of the audience to come onstage and play with the crazy Gamelan instruments in any way they could. This led to a veritable stampede of music students, the survivors of which got to bang away in a manner that evoked the Langley Schools Music Project, until a member of the orchestra came up behind them, tapped them on the shoulder and said "Thank you". Once the impostors had all been disposed of, the orchestra launched into a Javanese Gamelan piece about the joys of fishing.
After that, the orchestra played a number of pieces composed for Gamelan by various composers. These were all enjoyable, but a fundamental problem emerged. Basically, the best music for Gamelan seems to be traditional Indonesian compositions, and the modern compositions tended to be most interesting when they were most closely aping the sound of traditional Gamelan. The Javan pieces sound like nothing else in the world, while crazy modern compositions played by a Gamelan orchestra sound not that different to crazy modern compositions played by the more usual Western ensembles. This led me to think that a concert where a Gamelan orchestra played loads of Javanese tunes (with a couple of Balinese ones thrown in for the weirdos who prefer that school of Gamelan) would be far more enjoyable than one based on new compositions by Whitey.
One of the modern pieces I did especially like, however, was Jody Diamond's 'In the Bright World'. This was partly an arrangement of the American folk tune 'Wayfaring Stranger', and it featured beautiful vocals from local mezzo-soprano Michelle O'Rourke. It also went into a Gamelan workout towards the end that sounded very like one of the pieces from the Nonesuch Explorer series record The Jasmine Isle: Gamelan Music.