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Playing Along with Gamelan

A gamelan refers to the traditional Indonesian percussion orchestra and the set of musical instruments used. The instruments not only create interesting sounds but are beautiful to look at. Consisting primarily of decorative, percussive instruments made of hand-forged metal, the ensemble typically includes xylophones, gongs, gong-chimes, drums, cymbals, string instruments, and bamboo flutes. Join musicians, educators, and UMS artist facilitators Gavin Ryan and Olivia Cirisan to learn about these distinctive instruments.

Explore the accompanying slides and worksheets to learn more about Indonesia’s history and culture, and the intricacies of the gamelan.

About the Artists

Gavin RyanGavin Ryan is a composer-performer specializing in percussion, gamelan, modular synthesizer and electronics. A native of Payson, Utah, he has performed and taught throughout the United States, as well as Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Haiti and China. After completing a US Fulbright Fellowship in Bali, Indonesia, he founded and directed Gamelan Madu Kencana, a community Balinese gamelan based in Provo, UT.

Recent accomplishments include the inaugural award of the Utah Performing Arts Fellowship in 2020, winning the 2023 Brehm Prize in Instrumental Composition, an Oak Springs Garden Foundation Interdisciplinary Residency, the University of Michigan Rackham Presidential Graduate Fellowship, the Earl V. Moore Award in Music, EXCELPrize, Ryan Jones Award and the Judith Becker Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Research on Southeast Asia. He currently directs Gamelan Kyai Telaga Madu and Gamelan Madu Biru at University of Michigan where he earned a Master of Arts in Media Arts and is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance.


Olivia CirisanOlivia Cirisan is a musician, percussionist, teacher, singer/songwriter, composer and producer based in Ann Arbor, MI. Passionate about both making music and teaching it, she enjoys actively performing, writing and producing music, and teaching all ages of percussionists. Currently, Olivia is pursuing a Masters of Music in Percussion Performance at the University of Michigan, where she also received her Bachelor’s degree in 2023. She has been involved in the U-M Gamelan since Fall of 2022, and started playing gender wayang in February of 2022.