A drum rolled. A little music played. It was a sign for everyone around to gather at the amphitheatre as young and talented artists, dancers, and musicians prepared themselves for another round of enchanting show, here, at Saung Angklung Mang Udjo.
There was no major change in this place since the last time I was here. Maybe just one, that mang Udjo, the founder and the inspiration behind this gorgeous bamboo orchestra has long gone. Matter of fact, my last visit over a decade ago was to pay condolences for the passing of him. But his heritage has been living, and growing, even stronger that I could feel mang Udjo, with his signature white beard and sarong, was looking down to this place and smiling.
So what is so special about Saung Angklung Mang Udjo?
At glance, you would have mistaken the place over someone’s home if not for the big signage placed at the road side as well as by the gate. The place despite being modest and down to earth, just like how the late Mang Udjo was, has been the center of technique development of music instrument called Angklung that in its journey has finally been recognized as the signature music instrument of Bandung, West Java.
[Read what is Angklung]
Born out of an idea to gather the local young people and kids and to provide them with positive activities, Saung Angklung Mang Udjo now houses more than 60 talented kids who performs the Angklung Show daily at the amphitheatre, and ocassionally overseas.
In that Thursday afternoon, 4PM to be exact, I saved myself a seat on second row facing right straight to the theatre. My good friend who hosted the trip sat next to me while K and little A wandered around before finally took their seat on my other end.
It was not too crowded afternoon but I coukd tell from everyone’s face that they were all excited to be part of the famous Angklung show.
The show began with a little introduction from the Master of Ceremony, and then music played. A group of kids and teens entered the theatre performing a dance using long banners as their way to welcome the spectators. A Kuda Lumping dance by smaller children soon replaced the opening dance and followed by a traditional parade performance. This parade is normally done by local people to celebrate a child’s circumcission. The tradition is to mark the period when the child is now going into teenage stage.
West Java Topeng dance took place aftrwards and then overtaken by a little Angklung orchestra played by small children.
As if they wouldn’t break the awe, music soon changed and simultaneously series of dances from West to East of Indonesia were performed.
The show moved to its peak when it was time for the young musician took stage to perform the layers of Angklung performance. This is very special because you need to master the technique in order to play this instrument. I was amazed, hardly breath, watching the man who was probably only in his early 20, played every single Angklung in front of him with full of energy. Like watching a maestro play Symphony no.5 on a piano, only this one was Angklung and different song, but you get the idea.
Near the end of the show, everyone was given an Angklung to play. It was the shortest way to learn how to play an Angklung, I must say and I was overwhelmed. I guess, everyone there was overwhelmed too, trying to keep up with the tune and instruction given from the stage.
But it was fun!
The Angklung Show at Saung Angklung Mang Udjo always ends with dancing together. The young performers invited all spectators to join them on theatre to dance together before finally gave us a thank you gesture and waved us goodbye.
I looked around as we prepared to move outside. Everyone beamed. Sweat fell of the face. Laughed. And overjoyed.
This is how a musical performance must be.
An enchantment that would not leave from everyone’s mind and heart any time sooner.