Gamelan Artha Negara is a Balinese Music & Dance Performance Group specializing in Jegog music. The group was founded in 2013 by I Gede Oka Artha Negara and Sarah Kristine Artha Negara. Over 100 donors participated in their "GIANT Bamboo Sound" campaign and "Go Go Gamelan" campaign to purchase and ship an original set of gamelan jegog from Bali, Indonesia to Santa Cruz, California, USA. It is a gamelan from the people and for the people!
The jegog instruments were handcrafted by Nyoman Wangsun, the famous Jegog craftsman from Sangkar Agung village in Negara, Jembrana and assisted with its specifications and tuning by I Ketut Suwentra (Gede Oka's father a.k.a Pekak Jegog = Grandfather Jegog).
Jegog rehearsals for Gamelan Artha Negara began in Spring 2016 at the private residence of Lawrence Manzo, a generous donor and founding member of the group.
Gamelan Artha Negara = Treasure of the country
Gamelan = Instruments / Orchestra
Artha = Treasure / Jewelry
Negara = The direct translation from Indonesian to English is "Country." Negara is also a city in Bali located in the region of Jembrana. Gede Oka's family village is Sangkar Agung which is located in the Negara, Jembrana, Bali, Indonesia.
Jegog = Jegog is a type of Balinese music using fourteen giant bamboo xylophones. Jegog music is indigenous to Bali'swestern region of Jembrana, in particular a number of villages around the Jembrana capital city, Negara. Read more about Gamelan Jegog on Wikipedia: Click Here
Mebarung = Jegog is not only known for its grand dimensions. It has another unique aspect—a ‘musical combat’ whereby two ‘teams’ play in competition for supremacy. First, one team begins to play, while the members of the other watch till their opponents seem to be reaching their peak—and then the second team starts to play too. This is strategic: they want not so much to overshadow the first team but to break up its rhythm and stride. In response the first must pull back, and eventually the second team too completes its turn, the players near state of exhaustion palpable. The audience then makes its choice as to which has shown itself supreme.
Throughout the mebarung you’ll see the serious intent on each musician’s face, as they push themselves to their physical limit in long bursts of unrelenting percussion, driving themselves as if in a group trance, or experiencing a group high. Their prowess and their power are unforgettable.
The History of Jegog
Oka comes from a long line of Balinese musicians and dancers. Oka's father, I Ketut Suwentra (aka Pekak Jegog = Grandfather Jegog), was his first teacher and arguably the most famous Jegog artist in the world today. Oka's father and uncle,I Nyoman Jayus, established a performance group in 1979 called Gamelan Suar Agung.
Oka's father was the first artist to bring Jegog to Japan, his uncle was the first to bring Jegog to Holland, and Gede Oka has now helped to bring the first full-sized gamelan jegog set from Bali to the United States*. Gede Oka was the Associate Director of Suar Agung from 1992 to 2010. He has performed all over the world with Suar Agung and independently including Japan, Holland, Singapore, Thailand, France (World Cup 2008), and now is proud to be the first Jegog artist to have been invited to the United States.
*Gamelan Sekar Jaya established the first gamelan jegog group in the United States and were the first to sponsor Gede Oka to come to the US in 2010 as a guest artist.