A New Era for Indonesian Scholarship at Pitt

This October, the Department of Music will celebrate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Pittsburgh and the Indonesian College of Performing Arts (STSI). This momentous occasion will include a concert featuring musicians and dancers from the Indonesian College for Performing Arts, lectures by guest scholars, class demonstrations, and collaborations with Pitt’s University Gamelan.

In addition to the events in Pittsburgh, scholars from STSI and Pitt will participate in a festival of Indonesian performing arts at the Freer Gallery, one of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museums of Asian Art, on October 4 and 5 in Washington, DC. Entitled “Performing Indonesia: Music, Dance, and Theater from West Java,” the festival will feature performances, workshops, and a scholarly symposium organized by Department Chair and Professor of Music Andrew Weintraub. Weintraub, as well as recent graduate Indra Ridwan (PhD 2014) will present some of their latest research on Sundanese popular music. This festival is co-sponsored by the Smithsonian, the Indonesian Embassy, and University of Pittsburgh.

The public performance at Pitt on October 11 is a free program that will feature musicians and dancers from the Indonesian College of the Arts. Entitled “Music of West Java: The Past, Present, and Future of Sundanese Performing Arts,” the concert will highlight vocal music, instrumental music, and dance. The performers will explore a broad range of cultural expressions from the ancient aristocratic tembang Sunda Cianjuran (Sundanese vocal poetry accompanied by zither and flute) to the ebullient music of bamboo instruments and the popular jaipongan dance that thrilled audiences in the 1980s.

According to Professor Weintraub, the Memorandum of Understanding between Pitt and STSI will help Pitt solidify its place as a leading center for the study of Sundanese music. He further expects this formalized relationship to encourage more Indonesians to enroll in graduate studies in Music at Pitt; to strengthen the 17-year-old University Gamelan Artist-in-Residence program; to help establish collaborative research projects between Pitt and STSI; and to eventually lead to a Pitt in Indonesia study abroad program. Early indications suggest that these goals are well on their way to becoming a reality. The Indonesian government is enthusiastically underwriting the entire tour and representatives from both Pitt and the Smithsonian are going to great lengths to ensure that the beginning this new relationship between Pitt and STSI is a resounding success.

Music of West Java: The Past, Present, and Future of Sundanese Performing Arts takes place at Bellefield Hall Auditorium on Saturday, October 11 at 8 p.m. and is free to the public. Please join us for this magnificent celebration of cultural collaboration!