Briefly Noted

Issue Date: 
March 31, 2008

University Gamelan Ensemble Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The University Gamelan Ensemble—whose members perform the rich and exotic traditional music of Indonesia with gongs, chimes, drums, and metal-keyed instruments—is marking its 10th anniversary at the University of Pittsburgh.

To commemorate the milestone, ensemble director and Pitt professor of music Andrew Weintraub has planned a series of events, from Indonesian dance classes to a performance in Washington, D.C.

The gamelan, which originated on the island of Java in Indonesia, is a collection of large and small gongs, chimes, xylophone-like keyed instruments, and drums. Members of the ensemble sit cross-legged on the floor and strike the instruments with padded mallets.

The University received its first gamelan in 1995, and was one of only a handful of U.S. universities at that time to own one. A second hand-carved set was donated to Pitt last year. Weintraub established the University Gamelan Ensemble in 1998 and holds an annual concert for the public, frequently featuring traditional Javanese dancers in native clothing.

The following events are planned.

Through April 13
A group of visiting instructors/performers—West Java dancer Ening Rumbini, pop music composer Nano S., and vocalist Rita Tila—will conduct classes at Pitt and several other American universities. Pitt students who want to learn native dances of Java are welcome to contact Weintraub at 412-624-4184 or

Through April 15
Dancer Ening Rumbini will teach traditional dance movements from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays to students at the Falk Laboratory School, Oakland.

April 5
The University Gamelan Ensemble will perform at the residence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the United States in Washington, D.C. The concert kicks off an international relief fund to benefit Indonesian disaster victims.

April 11, 11 a.m.-noon
The University Gamelan Ensemble and guests will perform for Falk School students and will be joined by students demonstrating what they have learned. The matinee performance will take place in Bellefield Hall.

April 11 and April 12, 8 p.m.
The University Gamelan Ensemble and guests will perform at Bellefield Auditorium in Bellefield Hall. The concerts, to be taped by Voice of America for broadcast on Indonesian television, will include traditional gamelan, dance, pop Sunda (Sundanese pop music), and dangdut, a form of popular music in Indonesia. Tickets are $10, $5 for all students or senior citizens, and free for all Pitt students with a valid ID.
—By Sharon S. Blake

Pitt’s Observatory Wants to Open The Heavens to the Public

The University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory wants to open the heavens and a historic scientific landmark during public tours and a lecture series this month.

Between April and November, curious sky gazers can roam the landmark observatory, peer at the stars through the observatory’s oldest telescope, and hear expert portrayals of supernovae, dark energy, and asteroids. The observatory is located at 159 Riverview Ave. in Riverview Park, North Side.

Twice-weekly observatory tours are planned. Friday night tours run from April 4 to Oct. 31; Thursday night tours begin May 1 and end Aug. 21. The two-hour tours begin at 8 p.m. and include a film presentation followed by a walking tour and a look through the 13-inch Fitz-Clark Refractor telescope constructed in 1861. The Fitz-Clark was the primary telescope for the first observatory and the third- largest telescope in the world when built.

The observatory also hosts a public lecture every third Friday through November. The lecture series features astronomers and physicists from Pitt and other institutions. Topics covered include putting asteroids to use, looking into deep space, and the significance of supernovae in creating new stars. The evening begins with refreshments at 7 p.m. with the lecture to start at 7:30 p.m., followed by a tour of the observatory.

All events are free, but reservations are required. To make reservations, call the observatory at 412-321-2400 between 1 and 5 p.m. More details are available at
—By Morgan Kelly