Semara Winangun is an Ottawa-based gamelan led (or ‘facilitated’ as he would say) by Jamie Gullikson. Once a week, we come together to play shimmering music in the basement of the Indonesian Embassy where we are surrounded by dragons and gongs and watched over by the gods that inhabit our instruments.
In contemporary usage, the word “gamelan” just means orchestra. There are many different types of gamelan in Indonesia; the music that we play comes from the island of Bali. You can hear some of our recordings here.
In fact, the instruments that we play also come from Bali. Eric Da Silva brought these instruments to Ottawa in 2002 and formed Semara Winangun. Eric led the group until 2005 at which point he sold the instruments to us; we now run as a collective.
Learning new pieces can be a challenge sometimes, since much of the gamelan tradition is oral. We glean as much as we can from recordings and have been very fortunate to study with the likes of Dewa Made Suparta and I Made Lasmawan, Balinese master drummer and composer. In addition, some of our members have received instruction in Bali.