is an honored part of Dharma Swara’s vision, they also value the exploration of new music for gamelan. This includes recent compostions, such as Joel Mellin’s Synesthesia, Andrew McGraw’s Sikut Sanga, Nerissa Campbell’s Legian 1983 (Breathe My War), and Putu Saptanyana’s Lingga Tangan. The group has also performed works by leading Balinese composers, including Made Subandi’s Kupu-Kupu Kuning and Dewa Ketut Alit’s Cecanangan and Geregel. Dharma Swara is also currently commissioning new works for gamelan.
The intricate patterns of Balinese music and dance are learned through traditional aural methods with an incredible amount of dedication over long periods of rehearsal. Most members of Dharma Swara have been with the group for many years. A large number of them have also studied or lived in Bali, bringing back their knowledge to share and enhance the group. Dharma Swara plays with spirit, dedication, and gratitude on gamelan semara dana instruments. The gamelan semara dana was invented by Balinese musician, composer, and master gamelansmith I Wayan Beratha in 1987. The ensemble combines the popular 20th century gong kebyar tuning (selisir, a 5-tone scale) with the older 7-tone semar pagulingan (16th or 17th c. CE), making it possible to play a wide range of traditional and new repertoire.
Dharma Swara has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the Asian American Arts Alliance, among others.