Indonesian Cultural Exhibition in Pittsburgh? Ya!
After my pumpkin picking adventure at Soergel Orchards, my friend asked me to go an Indonesian Cultural Exhibition at the William Pitt Union on Pitt’s campus. Judging by the location, I assumed that it was just a small fair hosted by a student group. I’m sorry to admit that I had low expectations. Student-run cultural events usually don’t last longer than the donated trays of food.
I walked in to the ballroom to see several professional cameras tripods on a stage in the back of the room. The room was nearly full of men and women dressed in traditional Indonesian garb. (There were a few children running around. Two even wandered on stage.) For the men, the dress consisted of mostly bold-printed button-down shirts. The women wore sari-like dresses with embroidered flowers in sheer, shiny fabric. Many of the women wore headscarves, as Indonesia is a dominantly Islamic country.
The Indonesian Student Organization and the Indonesian-Pittsburgh Community hosted the event, which drew from Washington D.C.
I posted some pictures from the event. From a photographer’s standpoint, I was frustrated with the lighting. The seating area was bright while the stage was dimly lit – the opposite of the lighting at the belly dance show at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.
This was perhaps my favorite part. These women and several more make up House of Angklung. The angklung is an instrument made with bamboo rods that’s shaken, as opposed it’s older brother, the calung. A calung is a sort of bamboo xylophone that the player hits instead of shakes.
After playing their set, which included traditional songs and the Beatles and Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E, the band invited members of the crowd on to the stage to play! There were plenty to go around because most of these women juggle three. My friend, Abiola, and I ran up on to the stage to try the angklung. Each instrument had a number from one to seven, and the various combinations created notes. The learning curve is quite shallow, allowing the conductor to instruct us how to play a song in minutes.
Here’s a better view of the instrument:
This was the closing act – Reog Ponorogo Singolodoyo. There were several other performances, including vocalists and Javanese gamelan players. It was such a fun and educational experience.
I’ll leave you on this, a merging of East and West: Rihanna’s “Umbrella” played with angklungs.