Boston, April 30, 2017 – Audiences of all ages from across New England were mesmerized by the uniqueness and beautiful sights and sounds of Javanese shadow puppets and gamelan performance in Boston today. The show, titled Wayang Magic Flute, was organized by the Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology and was supported by the Indonesian Community of New England, Inc. (ICONE, Inc.). It was part of The Magic of Java exhibition in honor of Peabody Museum’s 150th Anniversary.
For about two hours, the audiences were entertained by a contemporary performance based on Mozart’s The Magic Flute, featuring intricate leather puppets and the sonorous gong-chime instruments of Harvard's Javanese-style gamelan orchestra performed by 14 graduate students from Harvard University and Longy School of Music. The performance was led by Jody Diamond, Artist in Residence at Harvard University’s Music Department, Hayley Fenn, PhD student in Historical Musicology, and theater director Mitchell Polonsky. Javanese shadow puppetry’s characters such as Buta Enom, Sita, Prabu Susarma, Durga and Garuda were used in the play and presented by Marc Hoffman, an artist from Maryland that has learned and mastered Javanese shadow puppetry for many years in Solo, Indonesia.
“The idea of this show originated from Hayley’s interest in a marionette tradition in Germany where the puppets act to a soundtrack recording of Mozart's Magic Flute. Inspired by this tradition, both Hayley and I then created a contemporary music performance that highlights the beauty and uniqueness of the Javanese shadow puppet and Javanese-style gamelan music that you see today”, said Jody, who is also the Director of American Gamelan Institute.
“As Indonesians living in the United States, we are proud to be part of such an activity that promotes the Indonesian arts and culture. Harvard University’s role in this show has shown the level of recognition for the Javanese shadow puppet and gamelan assemble at the world level and it is an encouraging sign that the Indonesian culture has now attracted more attention from the locals, especially in the New England area”, said Olla Chas, Co-Founder & President of the Indonesian Community of New England, Inc. (ICONE, Inc.), a non-profit organization that focuses on various Indonesian-American community / education-related outreach and promotes Indonesian arts and culture in the New England area.
“We have seen a growing interest among the public to learn more about our culture. Therefore, as Indonesians, we should put together greater efforts to embrace and promote the diversity of our culture wherever we are and whenever possible. We look forward to further collaborations in promoting Indonesian arts and culture in New England, especially in Boston area”, Olla added.
In addition to the shadow puppet show and gamelan orchestra performance, audiences were able to see popular highlights of the Javanese village at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair at the museum’s gallery. They were also encouraged to touch the beautiful hand-painted puppets, play the instruments, and sample coffee from two Indonesian islands, Sumatera and Bali.
Check out also: ICONE in the News