13/06/2024 02:41 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 (Bernama) -- Listening to the melodious strains of gamelan music performed by Gangsapura, one would never guess that the instruments are played by an ensemble of young musicians aged between 28 and 35.

Dressed in all-black traditional attire for every performance, they are proud to uphold and preserve the gamelan music heritage and keep it relevant in the ever-changing times.

Gangsapura, which performs frequently at festivals or concerts organised by themselves, comprises Ahmad Syamiem Mohd Sukarno, 28,  Teuku Umar Ilany Teuku Iskandar, 35, Nur Diyana Nadirah Shaharuddin, 31, Ahmad Syahmie Ahmad Kamal, 33, Muhammad Asri Muhd Sharizan Saseedarhan, 33, Amira Farhana Ahmad Hamidi, 35, Muhammad Anas Syafuan Norlatiff, 31, and Mohammad Faliq Che Adeni, 34.


Ahmad Syamiem, who has over 16 years of experience in playing gamelan music, said his involvement in the gamelan world began when he joined the Department of Culture and Arts, Pahang, at the age of 12 on the encouragment of his mother who wanted him to spend his free time pursuing more beneficial activities.

He developed an interest in gamelan music and eventually decided to turn his hobby into a full-time career. In 2017, while studying at the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (ASWARA), he teamed up with his existing group members to form Gangsapura.

"Before this group was formed, two of the members used to practise playing gamelan music at ASWARA, so I decided to join them, and over time, we got along well,” said Ahmad Syamiem.

He said gamelan music was originally performed in the palace during the reign of Sultan Ahmad Muadzam Shah who was among the rulers of Pahang.

“I felt the urge to preserve gamelan music because if not us, then who else can ensure this musical heritage doesn’t disappear?" he told Bernama.

To add a modern twist to gamelan music and prevent it from becoming outdated, Ahmad Syamiem said they included additional instruments to meet the demands of the contemporary songs they perform such as “Jidor’, ‘Kesi’, ‘Slenthem’ and ‘Kempul’.

The use of extra instruments has clearly been effective as their audiences have responded positively after hearing their modified performance of gamelan music.

"We added other instruments to keep up with the times and meet the demands (of the younger generation) because in the past it used to be just traditional (music) but now we have modern, contemporary music. So, people hearing Gangsapura for the first time usually feel amazed because our gamelan music is different from what they have heard before," he said.

Gangsapura also dreams of performing overseas if given the opportunity one day.

"We've held many concerts in Malaysia but haven't had the chance to perform abroad due to budget constraints. We are constantly trying to apply for grants but it's quite challenging because we are not the only ones applying," he said, adding that he finds gamelan music therapeutic.




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