The early Years: 1977 - 1983
The Toowoomba Gamelan was formed in 1977 when Doug Myers was teaching
Ethnomusicology at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education
(D.D.I.A.E.), now the University of Southern Queensland(USQ). Initially
it consisted of about four instruments owned by Doug. People who
played in the gamelan were mainly students of the DDIAE. Each year
Doug bought more instruments in the semar pegulingan style. By 1982
he had acquired a full set.
Over the years I Wayan Gandra, a musician from Peliatan, Bali,
visited several times, teaching new compositions and injecting Balinese
spirit into our performance. Each year we did several performances
and workshops for schools, universities, museums and festivals,
mainly in South East Queensland, but also in Canberra, Sydney and
Melbourne. In 1983 when Doug left the D.D.I.A.E we traveled overland
to Perth and on to Bali, performing and returning the instruments
to Doug’s house in Bali.
The middle Years: 1984-1993
We needed a replacement gamelan in Toowoomba, so in 1984 a grant
from the funding body of the DDIAE allowed us to purchase two thirds
of a set of semar pegulingan instruments from Pande Made Gableran
at Blah Batu, Bali. The new group consisted of townsfolk, lecturers
and students. At this time students of St Ursula's school also used
the instruments. Performances and workshops continued and at the
end of this year we won the national ASME Music in Education award.
Earnings from continuing performances enabled two members to travel
to Bali to gather repertoire.
More Recently: 1994-2005
Over time we have been able to purchase the other third of the gamelan set. This was made possible through a dollar-for-dollar grant from the University of Southern Queensland . Regular applications for funding has meant that the group has continued to benefit from residencies by Balinese masters every few years. For example, Wayan Suweca was in residence with the group in 1996 for a period of 6 weeks. In 2000 I Made Suartika worked with the group for a period of ten weeks culminating in the recording of a 4-track CD by the group. His residency was made possible with assistance from the Commonwealth Regional Arts Fund. Made returned in 2000/2001 to work and perform with the gamelan at the Woodford Folk Festival with assistance from Arts Queensland & the Regional Arts Development Fund.
In 2001 the group purchased a building which has been extensively renovated with assistance from the Gaming Community Benefit Fund to be used as a permanent home for the musical instruments and costumes, and a cultural venue for rehearsals and workshops. This is an ongoing project with plans to further develop music & information libraries, displays of Balinese culture etc.
In 2005 the master dancer I Made Djimat was sponsored by RADF to work in Toowoomba for a residency of 5 weeks with Gamelan Giri Jaya as well as Harristown State High School . During this time he helped develop new dance performance pieces with GGJ as well as writing and producing a dance drama performed by Harristown State High School students.