Today: Michelle Smith Performing Arts 09:00AM - 10:00PM

UMD Japanese Koto Ensemble and UMD Gamelan Saraswati

UMD Gamelan Saraswati:
Friday, April 25, 2014 8:00pm
Dekelboum Concert Hall
Director, Nyoman Suadin

UMD Japanese Koto Ensemble:
Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:00pm
Dekelboum Concert Hall
Director, Kyoto Okamoto

In their annual spring performances, the UMD Gamelan Saraswati and UMD Koto Ensemble will present recitals of traditional Balinese and Japanse music. Balinese gamelan, performed on bronze gongs, xylophones, and other percussion instruments, is an integral part of the Balinese Hindu ceremonies honoring deities such as Saraswati, the namesake of the UMD Gamelan Ensemble who is the Hindu goddess of knowledge and the arts. The UMD Koto Ensemble will perform works of quiet beauty and rustic simplicity on the thirteen-string, six-foot-long koto, accompanied  by the shakuhachi, an end-blown bamboo flute, and the shamisen, a three-string, banjo-like instrument. The koto, a stringed instrument similar to the harp, is the national instrument of Japan. The origins of the koto date back to the 5th century, and the instrument is used widely in traditional Japanese as well as Western jazz and art music today.

Learn more about traditional Indonesian music and the ancient Japanese art of koto playing through these films, recordings, books, and scores held by the Michelle Smith Pethe UMD Gamelan and Koto Ensembles in performancerforming Arts Library:


  • Recordings - Listen to music in the Balinese and Javanese styles.
  • Books -  Explore the history and performance of gamelan through books available in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.
  • Film - Experience traditional gamelan music and dance through these filmed performances.
  • Scores - Analyze music of the gamelan tradition and the pieces inspired by it.


  • Films featuring koto players performing traditional Japanese music, including a recording of the 2001 recital of the Washington Toho Koto Society and the UM Koto Ensemble
  • Recordings of works for koto with various ensembles, including a recording of selections by the Washington Toho Koto Society
  • Scores of pieces composed for koto
  • Books about the art of playing the koto and the history of the ancient instrument

Streaming Audio: Listen to an excerpt from the most famous piece in the koto repertoire, Rokudan no Shirabe, composed by Yatsuhashi Kengyo in 1644.