Hearing the Qur’an in Jakarta

Hear how the recited Qur’an is experienced in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, from the simple chants of daily life and ritual to elaborate renditions in formal worship and national competition festivals. Listen as the esteemed Indonesian reciter Hajjah Maria Ulfah performs the five styles of recitation, with introductions and commentary by music scholar Anne Rasmussen, author of Women, the Recited Qur’an, and Islamic Music in Indonesia. Maria Ulfah is a longtime recitation teacher in Java and a veteran of international competitions as both contestant and judge. This event was recorded in 2016 as part of the Freer and Sackler series Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections.

View more about this podcast »

Cambodian Classical Music:
Buddha Overcomes All Obstacles

Led by master musician Ngek Chum, Cambodian musicians from across the United States perform the undulating melodies and mellow percussion of classical Khmer music that accompanies Buddhist dance-dramas. This performance for the play Buddha Overcomes All Obstacles was produced by Cambodian American Heritage, Inc. (CAHI) and presented in 2018 in conjunction with the exhibition Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia.

View more about this podcast »

The Lightbulb Ensemble performing Hamsa: Five Tales on traditional Balinese gamelan with organ, guitar, and voice in 2016. Their performance at the Hammer Auditorium was part of Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections, a joint presentation of the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler, George Washington University, and the Embassy of Indonesia.

The Lightbulb Ensemble: Tales of Hamsa

In this virtuoso performance, a traditional Balinese gamelan orchestra combines with organ, guitar, and voice to tell the allegorical story of a beggar’s perplexing dreams about the Five Pillars of Islam. With entrancing music by Brian Baumbusch and libretto by Paul Baumbusch, this compelling music puts the shimmering sounds of gamelan in an entirely new context. Presented in 2016 as part of the festival Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections.

View more about this podcast »

Opening the concert was the trompong kebyar dance. I Nyoman Maria created its music and choreography in 1925. The name reflects the fact that the dancer (here, I Putu Dedik Sutyana) also plays the trompong, a row of gong-chimes.

Shimmering Sounds from Bali: The Gamelan Ensemble of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts

Thrill to the high-voltage music of the Balinese gamelan in this electrifying performance by the professional ensemble of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts. This all-star orchestra conveys the virtuosic tempos and dramatic shifts for which the Balinese gamelan is so justly famous. This music was recorded in 2013 as part of Performing Indonesia: A Conference and Festival of Music, Dance, and Drama.

View more about this podcast »

Music for the dance Lawung Jajar, created by Sultan Hamengku Buwana I (reigned 1755−92), concludes the podcast. This dance is based on military traditions at the court, specifically the lance maneuvers (lawung). The dancers for the performance were Yata, Pramutomo, Icuk Ismunandar, Widaru Krefianto Darmawan, and Anon Suneko.

Javanese Gamelan Music

Immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of Javanese gongs and xylophones in this performance by the gamelan ensemble of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts. The orchestra features a vast array of bronze gongs and bronze-key xylophones; mellifluous vocals and classical fiddle complete the beguiling mix. This performance was recorded in 2013 as part of Performing Indonesia: A Conference and Festival of Music, Dance, and Drama.

View more about this podcast »

The featured pianists on this podcast are (left to right) Jenny Lin (born in Taiwan), Quynh Nguyen (born in Hanoi), and Xiayin Wang (born in Shanghai). Jenny Lin’s recording of the Shostakovich Preludes was voted Best of 2009 by the Washington Post. Quynh Nguyen won top prize at the International Piano Concerto Competition and now teaches at Hunter College in New York. Xiayin Wang, who has appeared at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, was called “a paragon of virtuosity” by the Washington Post.

Asia on Piano

Enjoy virtuosic arrangements of feisty folk songs from China and Vietnam, along with new music evoking calm landscapes of Asia. These selections are drawn from performances by pianists Xiayin Wang, Jenny Lin, and Quynh Nguyen, who appeared at the Freer Gallery of Art in 2010 and 2011.

View more about this podcast »

Balinese Music and Dance: Gamelan Mitra Kusuma

Experience the shimmering brilliance of a Balinese gamelan orchestra and see images of the dramatic dances from the island’s Hindu-Balinese traditions as the Washington, D.C., area’s own Gamelan Mitra Kusuma (Flowering Friendship) performs a program of classical and contemporary repertoire. Three guest artists join gamelan director I Nyoman Suadin, who studied at Bali’s Conservatory of the Performing Arts and currently teaches at the University of Maryland, Swarthmore College, and the Eastman School of Music. This performance took place in the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium on December 4, 2008.

View more about this podcast »