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U-M alumni gift largest ever for U-M gamelan and Indonesian Studies

By Marilou Carlin

Th U-M Gamelan is a musical ensemble from Central Java. The gift will support the existing U-M Javanese Gamelan Endowmet and establish a new endowment called the U-M Indonesian Alumni Student Support Fund.

The University of Michigan Alumni Association of Indonesia have pledged a gift of $400,000 to the existing U-M Javanese Gamelan Endowment, as well as $100,000 to establish a new endowment called the U-M Indonesian Alumni Student Support Fund. These gifts are made in celebration of the University of Michigan’s Bicentennial in 2017, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the U-M Gamelan ensemble.

The U-M Gamelan is a musical ensemble from Central Java. The instruments were purchased by U-M Professor Emeritus of Musicology William Malm in 1966, and the ensemble gave its first performance in Hill Auditorium in the spring of 1967. Professor Emerita Judith Becker directed the gamelan from 1968 until 2003, when current director, Dr. Susan Walton, took on the position.

The Javanese Gamelan Endowment was established in 2010, building from an initial bequest from Rosannah Steinhoff, who with her husband Bill had been a member of the gamelan in the 1980s. The endowment exists to fund educational programs, concerts, and upkeep of the instruments, as well as visits and residencies by expert Javanese musicians, dancers, and puppeteers. With this pledge from the Alumni of Indonesia, the endowment will help ensure the continued vitality of the gamelan program at U-M.

The new U-M Indonesian Alumni Student Support Fund will be an endowment that supports U-M students’ study abroad in Indonesia, including those who wish to pursue the study of gamelan. The Alumni of Indonesia’s pledge for this fund will benefit from the U-M Third Century Matching Initiative, which provides a match of one dollar for every two dollars given.

Henry Rahardja, who received a Bachelor of Computer Engineering degree at U-M in 1998, is the current president of the U-M Alumni Association of Indonesia.

“It is the wish of our Alumni Association’s chapter that our gift to the Javanese Gamelan Endowment be a start of a continuous study and proliferation of the Indonesian culture in the University of Michigan and beyond,” he said. “The Student Support Fund shall also be the start of a beautiful relationship between students of the University of Michigan and Indonesia. We invite you to come and learn our language, culture, economy and investment opportunities, and much more.”

Both funds together represent a total gift of $550,000 and will be accumulated over five years. They will be administered by the U-M Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), which maintains the Javanese Gamelan Endowment. “We at CSEAS and around the university have been impressed with the enthusiasm and generosity shown by the U-M Alumni of Indonesia throughout this process,” said Christi-Anne Castro, director of CSEAS. “While their pledged gifts celebrate the storied pasts of the U-M Javanese Gamelan and of the university as a whole, they also help protect the future of the ensemble for upcoming generations.”

The gamelan’s current director, Susan Walton, also expressed her appreciation. “I am deeply grateful to the¬†Alumni of Indonesia for its generous support of Kyai Telaga Madu, U-M’s Javanese Gamelan ensemble.¬†Programs in the Indonesian arts bring high visibility to the scholarly and pedagogical efforts of our faculty, and these programs have a proven record of drawing students into the academic study of Indonesia.

“As a direct result of the U-M Gamelan’s numerous residencies with Indonesian musicians, shadow theater artists, and dancers, U-M students have elected to study gamelan music, shadow puppet theater, batik making, dance, ethnomusicology, Indonesian languages, and public policy, either in summer or year-long programs. Many others have decided to work in Indonesia or to get graduate degrees centering on Indonesia. I hope that we can continue to have artistic and cultural exchanges with Indonesian artists, academics and students so as to deepen Americans’ understanding of the beautiful and rich culture of Indonesia.”

The U-M Alumni Association of Indonesia and CSEAS welcome contributions to both the Gamelan Endowment and the Student Support Fund from anyone interested in further ensuring the continued vitality of Indonesian studies and arts advocacy at the University of Michigan.

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