“They have tapped into the potential of gamelan as a creative tool and a form of therapy…they evolved from musicians into performers …”
Lim Chee Wah, TimeOut KL, 2008
A new musical sensibility, which would later define Rhythm in Bronze, began to take root when ethnomusicologist Sunetra Fernando & friends formed the Gamelan Club.
Linking dance, tradition and contemporary musical styles on the gamelan, the first of the concertised gamelan series by the group, which also became the group’s name – Rhythm in Bronze - introduced its audience to the beauty of the gamelan in an informal, fun, light-hearted way. The repertoire demonstrated the intricacy of gamelan performance styles, glimpsed in fraction through the performance of various regional styles, such as Balinese and Javanese styles, adapted for the Malay gamelan orchestra. Artistic & Musical Director – Sunetra Fernando, Producer – Marion D’Cruz
The Rhythm in Bronze CD project is the first recording of contemporary Malaysian gamelan music featuring original compositions by local composers like Sunetra Fernando, Michael Veerapan, Tan Sooi Beng, Suhaimi Mohd Zain, I Wayan Rajeg, alongside a traditional Malay and Javanese repertoire specially adapted for the Malaysian gamelan. The CD incorporates different instruments such as vocals, electric guitars, the Kelantanese rebab and Chinese shigu drums into the traditional gamelan repertoire. Music from the CD was performed in the same year at The Actors Studio, Bangsar. Artistic & Musical Director – Sunetra Fernando, Producer – Marion D’Cruz
Collaboration with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Petronas Performing Arts Group to perform “Wayang”, a new composition by Sunetra Fernando, commissioned by the MPO.
Laras Gong - Rhythm In Bronze Gamelan Music was a concert presenting compositions specially written for Rhythm in Bronze by Malaysian, Indonesian and British composers for voice, percussion, flute and the electric guitar. The production won Best Music Concert at the 2004 BOH Cameronian Arts Awards. Artistic & Musical Directors – Sunetra Fernando & Jillian Ooi, Producers – Marion D’Cruz and Faridah Merican
Collaboration with Australia’s The Song Company, combining gamelan and voice - the result of several workshops to exchange ideas and expertise.
• Song Company Artistic Director – Roland Peelman
• Musical Directors – Sunetra Fernando & Jillian Ooi
• New Zealander Gamelan Composer – Gareth Farr
• Executive Producer – Marion D’Cruz
Wujud Antara New pieces specially written by Malaysian, Indonesian and British composers commissioned by RiB to further develop the repertoire of music for Malaysian gamelan.
• Artistic Director – Sunetra Fernando
• Music Directors – Sunetra Fernando & Jillian Ooi
• Performance Director – Chee Sek Thim
• Executive Producers – Marion D’Cruz & Faridah Merican
Wujud Antara received three Boh Cameroinian Arts Awards for Best Group Performance - Instrumental, Best Group Performance - Voice and Best Musical Direction (Sunetra Fernando and Jillian Ooi) in the music category.
The Selayang Kids Project I was the first “Rhythm in Bronze in the Community” programme launched for less privileged children to share the joy of performing and music appreciation via the gamelan. Following this, the Selayang Kids Project II was held in 2006. Both were sponsored by the HSBC in the Arts programme and the Five Arts Centre.
“Gamelan theatre” was born
Monkey Business was the first step towards music theatre showcasing the musicians as central and creative performers, involved in acting, movement and solo performance.
• Director – Krishen Jit
• Artistic & Music Directors – Sunetra Fernando & Jillian Ooi
• Choreography by Judimar Hernandez
• Executive Producers – Marion D’Cruz & Faridah Merican
The group’s 2007 concert, Alih Punggong, continued the exploration of the gamelan theatre genre, using the element of “extra turns” in bangsawan (Malay opera) theatre for inspiration. The music was woven together with short theatrical pieces and movement.
The highly successful production earned the group four awards from the music category at the 6th Annual BOH Cameronian Arts Award; Best Group performance – Instrumental, Best Musical Direction (Jillian Ooi and Susan Sarah John), Best Original Composition – Runtuh (Jillian Ooi) and Best Production Value.
Musical Director – Jillian Ooi and Susan Sarah John, Director – Namron and Loh Kok Man, Producer – Marion D’Cruz.
Blessing ceremony of Rhythm in Bronze’s very own gamelan set, named Tejasuara (“radiant sound”), sponsored by HSBC in their support of the arts.
The same year witnessed the group venture beyond home turf when they were invited to perform at the Sultan of Kedah’s 50th anniversary of his sovereignty. Susan Sarah John, then Music Director and also a Kedah native, was commissioned by the Kedah princess to compose a song for her father the Sultan. The group, together with other world renowned gamelan ensembles from other countries, also performed at the first Terengganu World Gamelan Festival.
2009 sees Rhythm in Bronze reach a new milestone. It celebrated its 12th ‘birthday bash’ by mounting a Gamelan Theatre concert titled “Hari Jadi” (“birthday” in Malay). The concept of the performance was based on the group’s musical journey, drawing from songs and pieces that hold a special significance in its history and development. Earlier this year, as part of Singapore’s Flipside Festival, the group was invited to perform at the prestigious international stage of Esplanade.
Rhythm In Bronze (RiB) was invited to perform at the Esplanade, Singapore from 22 to 24 May 2009 for Flipside Festival.
MaYa: Gong Illusions marks Rhythm in Bronze’s massive collaborative efforts with some of Malaysia’s most talented artists. Featuring choreographer Joseph Gonzales as its artistic director, this production featured singer-songwriter Reza Salleh, bassist Zailan Razak, gambus player Khazrin Yani and the award-winning Batteryheadz Percussion. The concert won Best Production Value at the 2012 BOH Cameronian Arts Awards.
Bites of Delights: Twirly Whirly Tales from the Spice Trail was Rhythm in Bronze’s first children’s music theatre performance held in November 2012, sponsored by the Maybank Foundation, under the patronage of Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir. It received 6 nominations and won Best Group Performance and Best Music & Sound Design (Lorna Henderson) in the Theatre category at the 2013 Annual BOH Cameronian Awards. The project took the group in a new direction reaching out to the young via a full-scale gamelan theatre project.
Rhythm in Bronze spent a boisterous night performing as part of the Kakiseni Festival on 27 April amidst the busy outdoors of the Pavillion shopping centre in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
For the first time, despite having been considered since the earlier years of the Rainforest Festival, Rhythm in Bronze finally made it across the South China Sea to Kuching, Sarawak upon a sponsored invitation by the Borneo World Music Expo and Rainforest World Music Festival 2013. The opportunity to showcase our music to an audience of programmers highlighted further that Rhythm in Bronze needs to share its music with other audiences around the world. Performing with us were also guest drummer Kamrulbahri Hussin, guitarist Isyam Swardy Daud, and singer Stephanie Van Driesen.
Ombak! is the 2nd in the Rhythm in Bronze’s community project to bring creativity and passion to children. It explores stories that revolve around the Earth’s most dominant feature – a vast body of water that has been a source of life for generations. The young performers They all play the gamelan, they all tell the story,
they all perform from the beginning until the very end of the show.
Ombak! won BOH Cameronian Award 2014 for Best Music Director, Best Original Composition and Best Set Designer. The production also received nominations for Best Performance by Ensemble, Best Direction, Best Costume and make Up, Best Sound and Best Lighting
A musical journey where gamelan meets theatre celebrating the melodic Malay gamelan with a contemporary twist! Using water as a starting theme, this musical journey features exciting new compositions telling stories of love, surrender and retribution.
Our composers revisit the connections between the acoustic qualities of the gamelan with the realm of Water and showcase the capacity of these ancient instruments for telling contemporary musical stories that are as nuanced,multifaceted and dynamic as the Water element. Featuring Loh Kok Man as Director together with Jillian Ooi as Artistic and Music Director and Teuku Umar as Co Music Director
Jeonju International Sori Festival is a global music festival featuring top performing arts groups from around the world that that showcases various foreign traditional music and world music.
Rhythm in Bronze were invited to perform a mixed 45-minute repertoire (concert-length pieces, light pieces, music, vocal) It was an honour to represent Malaysia’s musical and cultural offerings alongside other artists of caliber from not just Asia, but around the world, and demonstrate the evolutional possibilities of traditional music grounded in Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage, to showcase Malaysian arts.
Beyond Gongs project was a collaboration between Rhythm in Bronze and Taikuh Jikang from Japan, to deepen understanding between both Malaysian and Japanese culture and evolution of contemporary musical creativity within the region.
Rhythm In Bronze (RiB) represented Malaysia at the Asian Gems in the Arts (AGA) that showcased and promoted unique talents from Asian countries. It was held in conjunction with the Federation of Asian Cultural Promotion (FACP) Conference and Georgetown Festival.
Rhythm In Bronze (RiB) was part of the Georgetown Festival 2017 at the community of Gat Lebuh Macallum
Rhythm in Bronze provided the live music for the theatre production Swordfish + Concubine, a story by Kee Thuan Chye, under the music direction of Jillian Ooi and Teuku Umar Ilany.