The Gamelan Ensemble (pronounced gah-meh-lan) consists of a myriad of primarily percussion instruments, including metallophones, gongs and gong chimes. Other key instruments include drums (which lead the ensemble), a celempung (string-instrument) and a suling (bamboo flute). The Ensemble originates from Central Java, part of the culturally-rich nation of Indonesia. Royal proceedings of the Royal Javanese Courts in the 19th Century were never without a Gamelan Ensemble accompaniment.
Playing a gamelan instrument is relatively easy – it requires no prior grasp of music theory. However, mastering it is a mean feat. The pieces are cyclical in nature, with the balongan playing the main melody, while others act as elaborating or punctuating instruments to mark important points in each cycle.
Hailing from various countries, the Gamelan Ensemble of NUS High comprises a team of individuals with a strong passion for the musical arts. We believe in cultivating an appreciation for the splendor and beauty of Javanese culture among youths in NUS High.
Currently in our ninth year since inauguration in 2005, the fledgling Gamelan Ensemble of NUS High has made many appearances in various functions and occasions, to be well-recognized by distinguished individuals such as Ex-Minister of Education Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and His Excellency Mr SR Nathan. In 2009, the Ensemble made its Singapore Youth Festival debut, and garnered a Silver Award in the Central Judging for Instrumental Ensembles category. In 2011, the Ensemble entered the Singapore Youth Festival once again, garnering a Silver Award in the Central Judging for Instrumental Ensembles category.
Many opportunities are provided for our students to excel and develop their budding talents. In 2008, two of our students, Aaron Ong and Kylie Goh were invited to perform in Lagenda Raden Mas, a musical production by renowned performing arts production company, Sri Warisan . Other than that, experiential trips are also conducted as a part of an enrichment programme, where students are brought to concerts and even workshops as a part of their learning experience in this CCA.
The Gamelan Ensemble is not only active at school but they also participated in various CIP projects outside the school. In 2010, they had done Gamelan Service Learning Project with Singapore Children’s Society. We had a great time at Botanic Garden with children from Singapore Children’s Society and hope we can continue working with them in 2011. In 2012, we worked together with children from Touch Young Arrows, having a wonderful time bringing smiles to their faces with fun games.
In 2011, the Gamelan Ensemble debuted with the introduction of some western elements into the Ensemble. Also, the Gamelan Ensemble combined forces with the other performing arts CCA to bring success to the first NUS High School Performing Arts concert in September 2011, ColorFusion.
This 2013, the Gamelan Ensemble, under a new direction, is moving towards authentic Javanese music with a modern twist. Ranging from music composed originally by Singaporean talents to changing to one of the few specialized set of instruments, the Gamelan Ensemble was ready for a new sound. Preparing for the 2013 Singapore Youth Festival Central Judging in April, the whole Gamelan Ensemble practiced immensely hard, with combined practices with other schools also conducted occasionally to give members the exposure and to provide them with an enhanced experience. Our hard work paid off and the Gamelan Ensemble clinched an accomplishment award along with high praise from the judges and opposing teams for our remarkable performance.
The team's spirit never wavered however, as we practiced ever harder for the upcoming performances later in the year, ColorFusion 2 and NUS High School's Speech Day.
2014 set a new front for the NUS High Gamelan Ensemble as we participated for the first ever major Gamelan concert in Singapore, where dozens of other Gamelan Ensembles took part at the Republic Polytechnic Hall. After months of practice, the NUS High Gamelan Ensemble performed the opening ceremory at this event which received an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience. We also appeared on Schoolbag, the education news site (Bringing a new touch to gamelan music).