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.

Rumput at InLight 2017

Rumput was featured in InLight 2017, a juried outdoor public festival of illuminated art with an international draw. Many thanks to our fabulous crankie artist Beth Reid for putting together the application, and to sound & vision designer Greyson Goodenow for making us look so spectacular the photographers couldn’t keep away. (Fully 28% of the 7 photos featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch gallery were of us!)

Thanks also to photographers Robert Parrish (freelance) and James H. Wallace (Richmond Times-Dispatch).

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!

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

Hannah on stage in Indonesia

Rumput bandleader Hannah Standiford’s student residency in Indonesia culminated in an Indo-Appalachian performance in the Bukan Musik Biasa concert series, complete with cranky wayang. Hannah sang and played with Orkes Kroncong Iblis, along with additional Western students on fiddle and banjo.