Langen Suka

Photo by Greg Gould
Langen Suka performing at the Old Darlington School, 14 June 2014. Photo by Greg Gould.

Since the 1980s Langen Suka (pronounced “lung-’n soo-kaw”) has been promoting awareness and appreciation of traditional Central Javanese gamelan music and dance in Sydney through performances, demonstrations, workshops and weekly practices. The Javanese words “langen suka” signify a collective of people who happily pursue a common interest in a particular art form.

After completing a continuing education course in Javanese gamelan taught by Dr Jennifer Lindsay, at the University of Sydney, the students in the course formed the first Javanese gamelan ensemble in Sydney, calling itself the Sydney University Gamelan Society. Alongside this group, Dr Sarah Weiss, who taught Javanese gamelan and ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at the University of Sydney from 1992 to 1999, formed a student ensemble called Gamelan Kyai Kebo Giro. One of her students Vi King Lim became the director of the Sydney University Gamelan Society in 1997 when he returned to Sydney after studying gamelan and dance in Surakarta, Central Java. The group was renamed Sydney Gamelan Java for a brief period and was subsequently relaunched as Langen Suka Sydney Gamelan Association in 1999 with performances of Puspawarna: Many Kinds of Flowers at The Performance Space, Redfern. In 2003 current students as well as alumni of the Department of Music at the University of Sydney joined Langen Suka after Gamelan Kyai Kebo Giro ceased to exist. Since then Langen Suka has grown in membership and collaborated with guest teachers and performing artists from Australia and abroad. In 2023, the association was reregistered as Langen Suka Gamelan Music Inc.

We are fortunate to have access to gamelan instruments (slendro and pelog scales) owned by the Australian Museum and the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Sydney. The instruments have been housed at various locations, including the Old Darlington School on the main campus of the University of Sydney until 2015, the Robert Webster Building at the University of New South Wales until 2023, and currently at an historic wool store building in Ultimo near Sydney Fish Market. See the article by Dr Stan Florek (Australian Museum) about the removal of the Javanese and Balinese gamelan instruments from the Old Darlington School.

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