Java Tour, July 2018!

We’re launching our new project, Akar, with a tour of Java featuring crankies, storytelling, songs, and international collaborators.

Beyond the simple pleasure of of performing beautiful music and shadow theater, Rumput’s mission has been intercultural communion through study and collaboration. Last year we traveled to Java on the extraordinary opportunity of an invited 12-day residency. The timing lined up fortuitously with Andy’s academic research in Bali and the departure of three of our members for a year of intensive study in Java — Hannah on a Fulbright scholarship to study keroncong, Natalie on a Darmasiswa scholarship to study gamelan, and Edward on a Darmasiswa to study wayang (shadow puppetry). We got to escort them overseas, play music together, immerse ourselves in the local culture, and collaborate with enormously talented Javanese musicians.

This summer we’re mounting a similar journey on the other end of our scholars’ study year. But this time we’re traveling on our own steam, with our own agenda, rather than on a sponsored, curated, and all-expenses-paid trip. This will enable us to dig deeper into the highly localized cultures of several Indonesian cities.

Detail from Beth Reid’s “Brer Rabbit” crankie. Photo by Robert Parrish.

Danis Sugiyanto, Guest Artistic Director

Danis Sugiyanto, Guest Artistic Director, Spring 2018

Mas Danis is a visiting Fulbright Scholar with dual appointments teaching Javanese gamelan at William & Mary and the University of Richmond. He will  join Rumput during his semester-long residency, playing key gigs at Cornell University, in Baltimore and Washington DC, and in Richmond. He is also helping us compose and arrange music for our next big touring project, Akar.

Born to a renowned family of musicians in Solo, Java, Mr. Sugiyanto has been an active performer of traditional gamelan, kroncong and experimental music since his early teens. He graduated in 1995 with a BA from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Solo, earning his MA there in 2003 and immediately joined the permanent faculty. He has performed extensively in Asia, Australia, America and Europe. He was a featured musician in Robert Wilson’s I La Galigo and has performed extensively with Ong Keng Seng, Rahayu Supanggah, I Wayan Sadra, Waljinah, Sardono W. Kusumo and many others. He has been a featured performer in several of Garin Nugroho’s films

Java residency and scholarships

We’re excited to announce several emerging long-range developments.

We often call ourselves Richmond’s first and only orkes kroncong. That’s true, but it seems we’re actually the only active kroncong group in North America. We’ve been gratified by the positive recognition we’ve received for playing this music that is very dear to Indonesians: for every view our YouTube channel gets here in the US, we get 45 in Indonesia.

In the coming weeks we will deepen that connection. In August we are all being flown to Bandung, Java, for a 12-day residency where we’ll perform several hours a day and collaborate with local musicians.

Then singer / cakista / bandleader Hannah, bassist Natalie, and puppeteer Edward will stay on for a year of immersive study — Hannah as a Fulbright scholar studying kroncong, and Natalie and Edward as Darmasiswa scholars studying gamelan and wayang (shadow theater), respectively. (See the writeup on the VCU Music Alumni Kudos blog.)

Before our scholars depart we’ll drop into Montrose Recording in July to document some of our current repertoire.  Then the rest of us stateside will retool and learn new and adapted repertoire in collaboration with master musician and visiting Fulbright Scholar Danis Sugiyanto from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts, in residence at the University of Richmond during the spring 2018 semester. (You may have seen Danis perform with us as part of the Shadow Ballads tour in 2016.)

All of this means you have only one last opportunity to catch us in our current form: June 16 at Henrico Theater with Gamelan Raga Kusuma.  Come out and see how far we’ve come in the last two years; we can scarcely imagine the next two!

Grace Street Theater show with Gamelan Raga Kusuma, dancers, and more!

Poster by Lee Wall, raison

Come celebrate 10 years of Gamelan Raga Kusuma at the anniversary concert!  This show features a highly diverse survey of Indonesian arts, and is kid-friendly.  Get your tickets while you can!

Update 2017-03-20:

Fantastic show to a capacity crowd at GST!  Here we are performing in front of our beloved Javanese and Balinese gamelan instruments from Gamelan Raga Kusuma, and the public debut of the rabbit from our newest crankie, “Silver Dagger” by Hannah Marie Standiford:

Open call for crankie artists!

Rumput is seeking an artist to produce a crankie (panoramic scrolling artwork) to accompany a song for our live shows.  Submit a proposal including a brief outline of your concept and a miniature scroll as a work sample — any size or medium (receipt paper, electronic file, etc.)

One artist will be chosen to create a full-sized crankie to be used in live performance. We will provide a 36” tall roll of Tyvek for the final piece. (You’re free to use other materials too, but it must be as tough and translucent as Tyvek.)  If we use your work you will receive a percentage of the proceeds every time it is used.

Proposal Deadline: March 24th

Contact: info@rumputband.com
More info on crankies:  http://thecrankiefactory.com

Shadow Ballads

In April 2016 we toured with Shadow Ballads — a collaborative music and shadow theater performance involving Balinese master puppeteer Gusti Sudarta, master Javanese kroncong musicians Peni Candrarini and Danis Sugiyanto, and old-time Appalachian balladeers Anna & Elizabeth. This production incorporated new arrangements of traditional Indonesian and Appalachian music as well as a newly produced crankie based on The Ramayana.  We performed at The University of Richmond, Cornell, Wake Forest, Bucknell, the Indonesian Consulate in NYC and the Indonesian Embassy in DC.

Photos, bios & tour/production blog