Saturday, August 25, 2007


To most Indonesian, Kyai Gandrung is already strange name. A Kyai from Geneve? You must think I'm kidding you. Though it's sound playful but I'm not kidding you. Kyai Gadrung is the name of a Javanese Gamelan Group based in Geneve.

Kyai is a traditional title in Indonesia especially in Javanese society normally given to a person who posses a supernatural power or a religious leader. Gandrung is a javenese word which means "fond of" or "crazy about". If you gandrung something you like it very much or are in love with it madly. So will the "marriage" of these two contrast meaning can blend harmonioulsy in Geneve and contribute to the promotion of Indonesian culture richness? Let's hope.

Gamelan Kyai Gandrung in one of their performance in Geneve

Kyai Gandrung personnel in action

Two nonjavanese members of Kyai Gandrung Adrina Sitohang (left) and Marc Mareschi

Kyai Gandrung performs in front of Geneve business meeting

Kyai Gandrung personnel from left Mr. Andre Viéke, H.E. Mr. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, Mr. I Made Suharta, Ms. Arniza Nugroho, Mrs. Wasih Yasandikusuma, Mrs. Sinah Tordjman, Ms. Amandine Mareschi, Mrs. Callou Mareschi, Ms. Adrina Sitohang, Mr. Sri Joko Wiyono (leader of the group), Mr. Marc Mareschi, Mr. Alek Jeansen.


Gamelan is a type of musical ensemble of Indonesian origin typically featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums, and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings, and vocalists may also be included. The term refers more to the set of instruments than the players of those instruments. A gamelan as a set of instruments is a distinct entity, built and tuned to stay together — instruments from different gamelan are not interchangeable.

The word "gamelan" comes from the Javanese word "gamel", meaning to strike or hammer, and the Malay-Indonesian suffix "an" makes the root a collective noun. A central Javanese gamelan ensemble includes:

  • metallophones, such as the saron, gendér, gangsa, and ugal (sets of metals bars laid out in a single row and struck like a glockenspiel).
  • cradled gongs called bonang and kenong (sets of large, drum-shaped gongs laid out horizontally on stands)
  • hanging gongs called kempul and the large gong ageng
    xylophone-like instruments called gambang (similar to saron and gendér but with wooden bars instead of metal ones)
  • drums called kendhang

In Indonesia, gamelan usually accompanies other arts, such as dance, wayang puppet performances, and rituals. Typically players in the gamelan will be familiar with most dance moves and poetry, while dancers are able to play in the ensemble. In wayang, the dalang (puppeteer) must have a thorough knowledge of the music, as he gives the cues for the gamelan. It is uncommon to play a gamelan on its own, and there are no concerts in the Western sense, although it can be used as background music, such as at a wedding.

According to Adrina Sitohang, a local staff to Indonesian Permananet Mission to UNO in Geneve and member of the group since 2000, the gamelan instrument age is estimated 100 years old. It was first brought in to Geneve from Jogyakarta in 1983. In 2000 Mr. Hasan Wirayuda, presently Indonesian Foreign Minister, then Ambassasor to Indonesian Permanent Mission to UNO Office in Geneve, decided to hand over the gamelan to the custody of Ethnography Museum Geneve for public display. But since February 2007 the mission office took over the gamelan back and place it at the Ambassador house.

The naming of the Gamelan as Kyai Gandrung by Mr. Hassan Wirayuda was officiated in February 2000. Mr. F.X. Suhadi is the first gamelan trainer of this group. Since October 2000 the group had it's new trainer Ki Sri Joko Wiyono which led group until today.

The grup has performed in many occasions in Geneve one of which is it's regular appearance in Geneve Summer Festival between June and July each year and in Diplomatic Reception held in conjuction with Indonesian Independence day. This is in line with the group mission, promoting Indonesia by means of it's cultural performance.
Something important about this gamelan is that most members of this group are not of Javanese descendants. As you can see from the picture above, member of this group also came from other ethnics in Indonesia but also from European nations.
Now the question is, "Why these people join this very javanese musical group?"
"I can bet you, these people must have been nGgandrungi or in love to this Kyai alot".
To know more about this gamelan, visit Indonesian Permanent to United Nations Organisation in Geneve website:

1 comment:

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