Bandung is the home of a musical arts school called Sang Angklung Udjo. It is here that students from age 3 years and up learn to master the instruments of the Javanese orchestra as well as Wayang Golek puppetry. Both are incredible to witness and are easily a Bandung must see. This was my first time and I look forward to enjoying the experience again.
The concert, or as they would rather it be called, demonstration, lasts for a little over 2 hours. If you think that’s a long time to be sitting, a full version would traditionally last 7 hours, hence the term demonstration.
It starts out with an explanation of what you are about to witness but the explanation does not do it justice. Not from lack of effort by the emcee but simply because words cannot adequately capture the value of this performance.
The two hours consist of angklung solos as well as full orchestral renditions of modern music done in traditional format, childrens recitals, dance, an unveiled puppet show (which for me was one of the highlights as you get to see the puppet masters skill), and an interactive portion.
It was the interaction portion which scared the daylights out of me.
I am freaked out when anyone tries to make sing in public when I’m not prepared. It’s just not fair of me to inflict that kind of torture on others. Even the thought that this may happen during the course of the evening is disconcerting to me.
I remember once on a bus in Rotorua, New Zealand, the driver, on the trip back from a traditional Maori hangi (food cooked in an earthy pit), got everyone to start singing a song from their respective countries. I could feel my heart start to race and sweat beads form on my wrists and forehead.
Right from the mere mention of his plan…I wanted off the bus!
But, back in Bandung, it turned out to be very relaxing and enjoyable as the entire audience performed various melodies while being directed by the orchestras conductor. It was a group effort and not any one single individual (me) was being put on the spot.
The angklung is kind of like the harmonica in that each note is specific to that angklung. So you need eight angklung to play do, re, me, fa, so, la, te, do…am I getting too involved?
You will see it and enjoy it when you are there, I guarantee it. (See video below)