Pak Djoko Solo Festival

Djoko Walujo Wimboprasetyo, respectfully addressed by his professional colleagues and his adoring students as Pak Djoko (“Father Djoko”), is one of the most highly regarded senior performers of Javanese classical music. An esteemed artist, court musician, and composer, he is one of the most sought-after instructors of Javanese orchestral music in the world. Pak Djoko is a distinguished grand master of the Javanese gamelan—an orchestra of some twenty musicians that varies in size, instrumentation, musical style, and social function. Typically, however, a Javanese gamelan includes tuned bronze gongs, gong-chimes, single- and multi-octave xylophone-like metal instruments, drums, flutes, bowed and plucked stringed instruments, wooden xylophones, and both male and female singers.

Pak Djoko at CCA

For more than two decades, Pak Djoko has directed Javanese gamelan ensembles at the California Institute of the Arts, at the Los Angeles Consulate General of Indonesia, at UCLA, at UC Riverside, at San Diego State University, and at Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego.

As a dynamic teacher of university students as well as K-12 children, Pak Djoko recognizes that gamelan is an excellent tool for music education. Indeed, anyone can learn to play gamelan, since no previous knowledge or experience is required, one learns and plays by ear, without written notation, and the simple playing techniques of the various instruments makes the musical experience almost instantly accessible to children and adults of all levels alike.

Pak Djoko studied gamelan music in Java from an early age, under the tutelage of many well-known and distinguished gamelan teachers, including such luminaries as Raden Lurah Dhamowijoyo, Raden Ngabehi Prawira Pangrawit, Raden Mas Handoyo Kusuma, Bapak Harjaswara, Bapak Sunardi Wisnubrata, Bapak Promono, and Bapak Hadi Sumarta. He continued his studies in music at the Indonesian Arts Institute, Yogyakarta, and also in Indonesian law at the University of Gajah Mada. From 1975 until 1992, he served as professor of music at the Indonesian Arts Institute, after which he accepted the position of visiting artist at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Significantly, Pak Djoko’s most distinguished teacher, K. R. T. Wasitodiningrat, a revered senior Javanese gamelan teacher residing in the United States, selected Pak Djoko to be his successor as the Javanese gamelan teacher at the California Institute of the Arts.

Pak Djoko has performed widely, composed award-winning music for Javanese dance-dramas and shadow-puppet plays, or wayang kulit. He has received awards from the Javanese Ministry of Education, the Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Radio Republic of Indonesia, and the Governor of Central Java.

Canyon Crest GamelanAs the musical director of the Javanese gamelan ensemble at San Diego State University since 1992, and at Canyon Crest Academy since 2010, Pak Djoko has been the revered teacher of many students in San Diego. For the past five years, he has served as distinguished teaching artist for the Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program, which is partially supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. He has also served as artistic director of the Center for World Music’s gamelan festivals at Canyon Crest Academy and Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla.

At his home in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Pak Djoko hosts musical soirées—in support of local Javanese musicians as well as for American university students studying gamelan in Java or traveling to Java in search of deep cultural immersion.

—Lewis Peterman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, School of Music and Dance, San Diego State University

Setar

We continue our series of reports on the fascinating variety of musical instruments that students in World Music in the Schools enjoy working with . . .

The setar is a Persian (Iranian) stringed instrument with a small, pear-shaped soundbox and four metal strings. Its name means “three strings.” A fourth drone string was added about 150 years ago by the mystic Moshtagh Ali Shah. This modification gave the delicate instrument a “bigger” sound and more complex tuning possibilities. The resonating box of the setar is attached to a long neck that has twenty-five gut frets. The soundbox is made from mulberry wood, while the neck is made from walnut. The instrument has a melodic range of just over twenty scale degrees. Although it is traditionally played with the nail of the right index finger, in the past three decades two distinguished master performers, Mohammad-Reza Lotfi and Hossein Alizadeh, have introduced new techniques to give setar playing a whole new life.

Today the setar is generally considered the supreme instrument for performing Persian classical music. However, it was almost forgotten during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries owing to the increased popularity of the tar, a similar but larger instrument with a fuller sound. The tar is a double-chambered string instrument that has three sets of double strings with the same fretting on its neck as the smaller, more delicate setar.

In 1984, a pivotal recording of a setar solo performed by the master Mohammad-Reza Lotfi brought the smaller instrument to the attention of a whole new generation of Persian classical music enthusiasts. Indeed, Lotfi’s historic album, in memory of the great musician Darvish Khan, enticed many young instrument makers and musicians to fall in love with the sound of the setar, and thus a new generation of setar makers and players has recently emerged.

—Kourosh Taghavi, World Music in the Schools Teaching Artist

See the setar in action on YouTube: Lotfi Taknavazi Setar Niavaran Concert.

NEA Grants

On Wednesday, May 6, 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced that it will make a $55,000 award to the Center for World Music to implement world music and dance instruction in San Diego schools. The award was among 1,023 awards totaling $74.3 million made by the NEA nationwide in this funding round.

The grant was the largest grant for arts education awarded in the San Diego area, and the third largest in California.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The NEA is committed to advancing learning, fueling creativity, and celebrating the arts in cities and towns across the United States. Funding these new projects like the one from the Center for World Music represents an investment in both local communities and our nation’s creative vitality.”

For more, see our press release.

Kin Ho and Jeanne Cate Teaching

We continue a series of articles featuring the wonderful teaching artists of World Music in the Schools:

Spend some time in San Diego folk dance circles, and there’s someone you’re sure to meet pretty quick. That would be Kin Ho, CWM teaching artist, performer and instructor of traditional folk dance genres from around the world. Everywhere you look in the local folk dance circles, you’ll find Kin as performer, teacher, and organizer. He finds that students in the Center’s World Music in the Schools program respond well to the movement and rhythm (and fun!) of folk dance, and that—when opportunity presents—their parents enjoy joining in.

Kin was born in Canton Province, China. His family moved to Hong Kong when he was a toddler, and he spent his school years in that cosmopolitan city learning and performing international folk dance and Chinese traditional dance, including the Lion dance with drumming. After immigration to the United States, Kin taught and directed the Chinese Folk Dance Troup of Stockton. Moving to San Diego some twenty years ago, he performed with San Diego State University’s yearly International Folk Dance Concerts. He has taught folk dance classes extensively to both adults and children at all levels and at a variety of festivals and events around San Diego. Through San Diego’s International Dance Association, which sponsors the folk dance classes that he teaches in Balboa Park, Kin is involved with the planning and presentation of several annual folk dance festivals at the Balboa Park Club. He also teaches Greek dancing at the Folk Dance Center in North Park.

Kin’s wife and partner in the folk dance scene, Jeanne Cate, is likewise prominent in the San Diego folk dance world. Indeed, Kin and Jeanne were recently featured in an article in the San Diego UT. Jeanne also often helps out in the World Music in the Schools classrooms.

Both enjoy “spreading the old-country spirit” through dance. Everyone who learns one or more of these international dance traditions, Kin says, carries “a little corner of the world” with them.

Mbira

We continue our series of reports on the fascinating variety of musical instruments that students in World Music in the Schools enjoy working with . . .

The mbira is a hand-held musical instrument that evolved in sub-Saharan Africa. In its many different forms, it is capable of producing both intimate singable melodies for meditation and vigorous percussive rhythms for dance. It can be used to delight and entertain, or it can be used to lend solemnity to religious ceremonies. Made from a small block of wood, with rows of tuned metal strips (lamellae) attached, the mbira naturally produces a subdued soft tone that can be amplified by placing it inside a large hollowed-out calabash gourd resonator (deze).

The mbira can be played as a solo instrument or as part of an ensemble, with other mbiras or with drums (ngoma) or rattle shakers (hosho). When two mbiras are played together, each renders a different but complimentary interlocking musical part (kushaura or kutsinhira). As a native-trained teaching artist, I currently teach a solo mbira type from Zimbabwe—the karimba—in the San Diego K-12 public schools.

Garit Imhoff, World Music in the Schools Teaching Artist

See the mbira in action on YouTube. Also, San Diego students playing the Zimbabwean karimba.

View Teaching Artist Garit Imhoff in performance with Zimbeat on YouTube.

We continue our series of reports on the fascinating variety of musical instruments that students in World Music in the Schools enjoy working with . . .

The tabla is a paired drum set from the northern regions of South Asia (North India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and parts of Afghanistan).  Consisting of a high drum (dayan) and a low drum (dagga or bayan), the tabla is played with the fingers, using a variety of different strokes and hand positions, to produce up to twenty different sounds.  Each of these sounds in turn has a name, or a syllable.  Together, these syllables (for example: ta, tin, dha, dhin) are used pedagogically as a rhythmic solfège—the syllables are sung to the student in order to teach rhythmic phrases, which are then reproduced on the drums.

Although the tabla was invented and popularized in the Mughal courts of Delhi approximately 300 years ago, the systems of music it stems from are over two thousand years old.  The tabla, in a sense, is a modern instrument that reflects South Asia’s embodiment of the ancient and the new—it has both Hindu roots and an Islamic Mughal past while continuing to thrive as a vibrant tradition, both within the contexts of North Indian Classical music as well as in the global musical landscape.

—Miles Shrewsbery, World Music in the Schools Teaching Artist

See the tabla in action on YouTube: Tabla Legend Ustad Alla Rakha | Interview with Zakir Hussain (Alla Rakha’s son) | Miles Shrewsbery Tabla Solo

Learn more about Teaching Artist Miles Shrewsbery and his music at tablamiles.com.

Kourosh Taghavi

San Diego Participant Observer, March 12, 2015

Kourosh Taghavi, master of Persian classical music and pillar of the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, is featured in an article by Amanda Kelly.

Kourosh Taghavi, instrumentalist, vocalist and Persian classical musician boasts a passionate approach to music that has impacted audiences around the world. His collaborative projects with master musicians and local cultural organizations work to fulfill his lifelong dream to promote Persian classical music. . . .  “It is a very holistic approach to music instead of just notation and sounds,” he says. “Your daily life is so attached to your music and your music is so attached to your daily life they are almost inseparable.”

Read the full article here.

The San Diego Participant Observer is published online by the Worldview Project.  It is a great source for keep up-to-date on cultural goings on in San Diego and environs. Thanks to Tom Johnston-O’Neill and the dedicated crew at the Worldview Project for their support of World Music in the Schools and other Center for World Music projects!

Metal and Castanha Agogos

The first in a planned series of reports on the fascinating variety of musical instruments that students in World Music in the Schools enjoy working with . . .

The agogô is an instrument used widely in West Africa, Brazil, and throughout the world. The name comes from ágogo (AH-go-go) meaning “double bell” in the tonal Yoruba language and is onomatopoeia for the two sounds it makes. In my classes for the Center for World Music we use the Afro-Brazilian agogô (ah-go-GO). The agogô is a type of handbell similar to our cowbell. It has two or more bells attached to a handle and is played with a wooden stick. The bells can be made of metal, castanhas-do-Pará (Brazil nut shells), coconuts, gourds, wood, or large seeds. The agogô is found in a variety of Afro-Brazilian musical styles including maracatu, maculelê, batucada of the samba schools, afoxé, songs of capoeira, and more. It is used in ceremonies and rituals of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé.

—Stefanie Schmitz, World Music in the Schools Teaching Artist

Agogôs in action on YouTube:  Demo with Stefanie | A Four-Toner in Brazil |  Brazil Nut Shell Agogô

More on Stefanie: StefanieSchmitz.net

Nomsa Burkhardt

Farewell to Nomsa

Nomsa Burkhardt at GarfieldIt is with a mix of emotions this month that we must say farewell to our good friend and stellar teaching artist Nomsa Burkhardt, who will be relocating to Germany with her family soon. Nomsa is a brilliant dancer, percussionist, and teacher, and over the last four years has shared her deep knowledge of South African Zulu music, dance, and culture with many hundreds of lucky San Diego students as part of our World Music in the Schools program.

During her time with the CWM, Nomsa has held artist residencies at Bird Rock, Del Mar Heights, Euclid, and Hearst Elementary schools, at the King-Chavez Academy of Arts Charter School, at Bell Middle School, and at numerous other festivals and workshops. She has set an exceptionally high standard of teaching and performance, and has brought a deeper understanding of the world we live in and the riches of its traditions to all those fortunate enough to have met and learned from her.

We wish her the best of journeys, success and prosperity in her new home, and our deepest thanks for all of her contributions to the Center for World Music during her time in San Diego.

—Jonathan Parker, Schools Programs Director

Nomsa’s CWM YouTube videos are here and here. See also Nomsa.net.

CWM World Music in the Schools

Art Works!, October 2011

The California Arts Council asks a question very important to the Center for World Music: “How can the traditional performing arts of cultures East and West help to promote a healthy and enriched world?”

The California Arts Council (CAC) has supported Center for World Music teaching artist residencies in K-12 schools for over 10 years. The residencies have provided thousands of San Diego students with weekly, year-round, hands-on workshops in the performing arts from six broad cultural areas of the world: South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, and Europe.

Read more here.