Silk Road Lounge Series
The Crow Collection of Asian Art has kicked off a brand, spankin’ new monthly program and I love it! Last Thursday evening the indoor courtyard of Gallery III transformed into the Silk Road Lounge, complete with dim mood lighting, silk covered café tables and hypnotic world music spun by DJ Woodtronic.
A prominent feature of Gallery III is a large 18th century Mughal period façade which, on this evening, provided a fabulous background to a percussion ensemble out of Houston. Before The Space City Gamelan musicians took to the stage, their collection of instruments was arranged before the Mughal wall like a gorgeous new installation piece. The hanging gongs, metallophones, and pitched kettle gongs, set in beautifully ornate white wood frames accented with gold, were artistically lit to enhance the intriguing ambience in the Lounge.
The performance began with two of the percussionists before us, striking alluringly resonate beats with the hanging gongs and hand drums while the rest of the musicians completed a processional around the perimeter of the gallery playing what I believe to be bamboo shakers called angklungs.
The gamelan is a native Indonesian art form that predates the Hindu-Buddhist culture and is by far the most famous form of music from this country. The word gamelan literally means “to hammer” which explains the predominance of percussion instruments in a traditional gamelan orchestra. The central melody is played on metallophones set up front in the ensemble, with gong players accenting the music in the rear. I was so truly entranced by the melodic “Indonesian exotica” and “psychotropic jungle lullabies” provided by Space City Gamelan that, while I realize a gamelan is a set of instruments built and tuned to stay together, I’m seriously considering having my very own pitched kettle gong rack at home.
I always meet interesting people at Crow events without ever having to initiate a conversation and this event was no different! With the debut of the Silk Road Lounge, the Crow Collection did a great job of setting the atmosphere for easy mingling and drew in an audience that was both racially and socially diverse.
This free monthly series continues every first Thursday through December and promises to showcase unique music from Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and beyond! In addition to the music in the Silk Road Lounge, you can also enjoy tours, complimentary wine and beer tastings.
Next up is the Alash Ensemble on April 1, 2010. This quartet of singers from Tuva, a tiny republic in the heart of Central Asia, has mastered the remarkable technique of “throat singing” (the art of singing multiple pitches at the same time) and is inspired by the great musicians of Central Asia but also names Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix as influences!
Silk Road Lounge is free. No reservations are required. Join a tour of the collections at 6:30 p.m. Main stage act begins at 7:00 p.m.