On Sunday evening Friends of the Gamelan, Chicago's only ensemble dedicated to the traditional Indonesian percussion music, will premiere a new composition by ensemble member and local experimental composer Patrick Liddell. It'll be the first time in four years that the 31-year-old group will debut an original work by one of its own.
Liddell's "Cycle as Opposed to Line" employs the cyclical compositional structures of traditional Javanese gamelan as well as its two most common tuning systems (five-note and seven-note octaves, loosely speaking), but it has a distinctly American accent thanks partly to its Western use of meter. "It's definitely more modern," says ensemble member April Camlin, who also drums and sings in experimental psych act Wume. "It reminds me a little bit of something Steve Reich would write."
The new composition is one of ten pieces the 34-member ensemble will perform at Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn. Along with Liddell's work and some traditional Javanese songs, the group will play "Shady Grove," an American folk tune they've adapted for the gamelan—in part by adding musical saw and mountain dulcimer to their lineup of gongs, drums, bells, and metallophones. The concert starts at 6 PM; admission is a $15 suggested donation, $5 for University of Chicago students and children under 12.