Paul Gutama Soegijo

© Anne Soegijo
Paul Gutama Soegijo is born 1934 in Yogyakarta (Central Java). He acquired diplomas in violin and musical theory in the Amsterdam Conservatory, and studied composition at Hochschule für Musik in Berlin with Boris Blacher. He feels at home equally with the European modernity as with the gamelan tradition of his native country. After years as a composer of the "western“ Neue Musik, in 1973 he established the Banjar Gruppe Berlin as an experimental ensemble; with it he turned to gamelan music again in the late seventies. Beside as a composer, Gutama works as a percussion musician, performer and dancer in representations of his own works. In his New Ancestors Music the archaic splendour of the ages old gamelan orchestra is revived to dazzling new life by innovative means like queer rhythms and audacious combinations of instruments. Always loyal to the musical sprit of his ancestors, Gutama finds fascinating new possibilities in the concealments of an ancient tradition. The majestic sounds of gongs cast in bronze and big metallophones resort to an adventurous and sensual combination with modern percussion, saxophone and others, without losing their traditional identity. The compositions of Gutama are committed to the dynamics of innovation and simultaneously preserve the magical and ritualistic authenticity of gamelan music.The Banjar Group Berlin consists of six musicians, some of whom have played together for several decades and besides performing traditional gamelan music they always develope new instrumental playing technics. Hence from the utmost traditional musicality there evolved a common dynamic process of innovation, which in the compositions of Gutama can be heard in a singular way. During their performances in numerous festivals in Europe and Asia since 1974, the group acted several times as cultural representation of the city of Berlin and in Jakarta, Vancouver and Hong Kong as official contribution of Germany.