Gamelan Padhang Moncar is a group of New Zealand musicians dedicated to the study and performance of Javanese music and based at the New Zealand School of Music (Victoria University campus) in Wellington. We are directed by Budi S. Putra, and managed by Megan Collins.
I joined the group in 2016, after previously performing with the Balinese gamelan ensemble Gamelan Taniwha Jaya in 2010 and 2015, playing Javanese gamelan in Perth, and travelling to Central Java in 2014.
The group performs traditional repertoire from the courts and villages of central Java as well as contemporary works by New Zealand composers such as Jack Body and Gareth Farr. We also frequently accompany wayang kulit (traditional shadow puppetry) with Joko Susilo.
Members come from a diverse range of backgrounds and include: Judith Exley, Marie Direen, Jo Hilder, Greg Street, Pippa Strom, Mike Jones, Briar Prastiti, Jason Erskine, Helen O’Rourke, Stephanie Cairns, Carina Esguerra, Rupert Snook, Tristan Carter, Jack Hooker, Megan Collins, Anton Killin, Alisa Hogan, Bronwyn Poultney, Dave Edwards.
The Javanese name can be interpreted in several ways. Padhang is brightness or daylight. Moncar means growing or developing vigorously. Padhang Moncar can refer to the sunrise (the growing light), and the fact that in Aotearoa we are the first gamelan in the world to see the new day. Padhang Moncar can also be interpreted as harmony and growth and thus the name can reflect the aspirations of the group.
The gamelan is the traditional percussion orchestra of Indonesia, mainly found in the islands of Java and Bali. Entirely comprised of bronze metallophones and gongs, the Javanese gamelan also often uses a vertical fiddle (rebab) and wooden xylophone (gambang) in quieter repertoire and features compelling vocals.
Indonesian gamelan music has been played at Victoria University since 1975, when the first gamelan set of instruments was purchased by ethnomusicologist, Allan Thomas. He managed the group for many years, followed by Jack Body, who fostered new compositions for the group.
The group has toured Indonesia four times since 1994 and has also toured New Zealand extensively, performing recently at WOMAD 2012.