The eastern wind blows to the west
Lecture-recital Henk Mak van Dijk and Sinta Wullur
Dutch pianist and anthropologist Henk Mak van Dijk and composer Sinta Wullur gave a lecture recital featuring recent and historic piano compositions inspired by the Balinese gamelan. It was a challenge to find compositions for piano that had a link with Bali, because while compositions inspired by the gamelan music of Java are readily available, Bali and Balinese music were not well known in the West before the 1920’s. This all changed with the pioneering Odeon/Beka recordings of Balinese music from 1928-1929, the 1931 performances of Balinese gamelan in the Netherlands and at the World Exposition in Paris, and the subsequent Bali Culture Congress attended by Walter Spies and Colin McPhee three years later. These were all major breakthroughs in popularizing and ‘translating’ Balinese music.
These days it’s easier to find ‘Bali’ in piano music, although it’s still not abundant. Sinta Wullur was inspired by Bali to writer her Bali in Blue and Philip Glass on Bali Beach and Henk Mak van Dijk uncovered other interesting recent works echoing the sounds of Balinese music. Both Henk and Sinta agree that revitalizing the art of transcribing playable and attractive pieces for piano, in line with those made by Walter Spies and Colin McPhee, can go a long way towards promoting North-Balinese gamelan music around the globe.
[translation Eileen Stevens]