Bonang Quartet No.1 was one of my first gamelan compositions and has perhaps become my most popular. Written in 2008, it was quickly performed across the UK, at the York Late Music Festival, the Buxton Music Festival, at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music, and for the Royal Musicological Association. The following year, it was performed in Ireland's National Concert Hall as part of the Ergodos Music Festival, alongside the premiere of my Bonang Quartet No.2. This occasion was also marked by the first of several national broadcasts for the piece.
In later years, after founding the NCH Gamelan Orchestra, I had the honour of bringing my own performers to give the Indonesian premiere of the work at the 2014 Yogyakarta International Performing Arts Festival in Java. This was followed by another performance in the NCH, when the same performers presented their Indonesian programme in Dublin. More recently, Bonang Quartet No.1 featured as the centre piece in one of the Irish Composers Collective 'In Dialogue' concerts. This involved giving talks, workshops and mentoring developing composers in how to write for gamelan. Their completed compositions were then performed alongside the quartet in a showcase concert.
In March 2019, I began a series of songwriting workshops with the Dublin Simon Community. After visiting numerous homeless services around the city, bringing together poets, musicians and singers, we organised weekly sessions where all the participants met to write, rehearse and record their original songs.
Over the course of the project, a core group came together to form a band, calling themselves The Social Misfits, and the series culminated in a CD launch and a concert performance of all the songs in Dublin Castle. You can read our story in this article from the Irish Sun newspaper, featuring interviews with some of the band members, or click on the picture below.
* Jan 26th ~ Two of our Dublin-based ensembles will perform in the Chester Beatty Library in a free afternoon concert from 2-3pm.
* March 26th ~ We will host an evening of contemporary gamelan music in the National Concert Hall. The experimental ensemble Gamelan Nua will perform a showcase of their original works, combining the Indonesian instruments with electronic soundscapes and visual projections. Meanwhile the NCH Gamelan Orchestra will present a selection of their own compositions alongside modern works from Java.
* April 26th ~ The UCD Gamelan Orchestra will host a special evening programme, A Tribute to Nartosabdo, in St. Finian's Church on Adelaide Road. This concert will include four different gamelan groups coming together to play a selection of songs by one of Java's most beloved composers.
* June 8th ~ The NCH Gamelan Orchestra will present an evening of classical and folk music from Java alongside some original compositions for the gamelan in the National Concert Hall.
* June 12th ~ Our end-of-year concert in the National Concert Hall with our two Tuesday evening gamelan classes.
* July 17th ~ This will be an outdoor concert (weather permitting) in the beautiful surroundings of the National Botanic Gardens. The NCH Gamelan Orchestra will present a sunset concert of classical and folk music from Java alongside some original compositions for the gamelan.
Two of my compositions for guitar and electronics are featured on the new CD/DVD release Knowing/Unknowing from Ben Dwyer on Farpoint Recordings.
My microtonal work for guitar and electronics Anois 's Aris, which was originally written, in collaboration with Judith Ring, for the delicate medieval psaltery, has been tranformed in Ben's hands into a dramatic performance piece.
My more recent work Enharmonic Harmonics, written especially for Ben, is an exploration of the "enharmonic genus", the remarkable microtonal tuning system of ancient Greece.
In August 2018, the NCH Gamelan represented Ireland at the International Gamelan Festival in Indonesia. The week-long festival took place in venues all across the city of Surakarta in Central Java. We put together a specially-prepared programme for the festival to showcase the different gamelan styles and techniques we have developed in the five years since we began playing together. The programme included a selection of popular Javanese folk songs and original compositions, including my own work Embat, alongside several core works from the classical Javanese repertoire.
We performed before a huge audience in the festival's outdoor arena, and the whole performance was extremely well received. The event was covered by national media, including BBC Indonesia. Indonesia's national weekly magazine, Tempo, described how the group "truly captured the audience's attention", while one festival organiser cited this ensemble as a great example of how the foreign gamelan orchestras at the festival were able to "mesmerise" audiences with their "competent and holistic understanding of gamelan". But the greatest appreciation was reserved for our rendition of the popular Javanese song Prau Layar, which closed the set with the festival audience enthusiastically cheering and singing
At the festival's closing ceremony I was delighted to be presented with the surprise gift of a specially-designed lamp bearing the image of Javanese deity Wuku Sungsang, who is symbolically associated with the date of my birth.