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Indonesian Gamelan Stories

Lisa Graciano

Growing up in the city of Jakarta in Indonesia, Lisa Graciano was exposed to many styles of music. From the classes her parents enrolled her in to the radio playing U.S and British hits, she gained a good ear for a diverse set of sounds. However, when she was young she would hear a strange but captivating type of music playing from the tv. This music was Gamelan, a traditional ensemble music of the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese people of Indonesia, made up of predominantly percussive instruments. Despite her sparked interest in this commutative music, Lisa was busy in the Alternative music scene of Manila as well as jazz and blues in Amsterdam and did not begin to practice Gamelan until she came to California met her husband, Paul. Paul was introduced to Gamelan music by listening to Lou Harrison and hearing it played at college. Together, Lisa and Paul have created Purnama Music, a musical project set on mixing guitar based western music with traditional gamelan music. When asked about the importance of genre fusion between different sounds, Lisa and Paul both agreed that “creative musicians are always looking for something new,” and it is a part of the musician’s process to mix and match different sounds to create a new and exciting one. Lisa, Paul, and many other musicians are where they are with the diverse exposure to different forms of music, and it seems that the future of music is genre-bending.

Learn more about Lisa Graciano and her group Purnamasari here


Burhan Sukarma

Back in the village of Karawang, Burhan used to tend to his family’s farm animals as a young boy. He took care of them in many ways, including serenading them with the sound of his suling. Burhan played a variety of other instruments to increase his musicianship, however his parents were against the idea of him pursuing that path. Life was very hard for them back then, but Burhan kept on learning music by moving to the regional capital, Bandung, and applying himself to mastering the Suling. “The sound of a Suling is like when it comes from God and Heaven,” Burhan stated in the interview, and it’s apparent that he believed it to the utmost. He has become a master of the Suling and is featured in the majority of Suling recordings in West Java. Burhan has toured around the globe and also taught at well-known universities such as the University of Washington, San Jose State University, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley. His current project is directing Pusaka Sunda, which is dedicated to playing traditional and contemporary gamelan music.

Learn more about Burhan Sukarma here


San Francisco International Arts Festival
Phone Number: 415-399-9554 | Email: [email protected]
1222 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109



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