The members of Da’ Hawaii Seniors Club of Cerritos were treated to the first performance of The Angklung Group of Cerritos at their October 14, 2021, meeting at the Cerritos Senior Center. Fourteen of sixteen members of the Angklung Group performed three numbers with their bamboo instruments under the direction of their leader, Ann Kho. They had been practicing weekly for four months in Ann’s garage to prepare for this performance. The Group played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Lullaby,” and “Aloha O’e” with careful precision. They received a round of applause from members for their performance. Ann invited members to experience playing the Angklungs, and some members joined the Angklung Group to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” with them. It was a unique experience for members to hear and to play the Angklung!
Ann Kho originally came from Indonesia to California over 50 years ago, but she remembered her native musical instrument made of bamboo called Angklung. When she was offered the opportunity to receive four sets of free Angklungs from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Washington, D.C., to popularize the instrument, she accepted the offer. She wanted to share this unique instrument with Kumu Hedy Anduha’s hula class members and Da’ Hawaii Seniors Club. She said that she herself had paid about $2,000 for her own set of Angklungs many years ago, which included the cost of shipping and fumigating the instruments.
According to Wikipedia, the Angklung is a musical instrument originally from the Sudanese region in Western Java, Indonesia. It is made of a varying number of Bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. The bamboo tubes are carved to have a resonant pitch when struck, or shook, and are tuned to octaves. One hand holds the bamboo frame, and the other hand shakes the instrument. Each performer is responsible for one pitch, at the appropriate time, to produce complete melodies. Playing the Angklung as an orchestra requires cooperation and coordination, and is believed to promote the values of teamwork, mutual respect, and social harmony. Angklung is made of two Balinese words, “angka” meaning “tone,” and “lung” meaning “lost” or “broken,” so Angklung means “Incomplete tone.”
Wikipedia also noted that during the Hindu Period of History, 320-650 CE, the Angklung was played in honor of the Goddess of Fertility, Dewi Sri, to ask for blessings on their land and lives. Later, it was played asking for blessings for harvest ceremonies, circumcisions, marriages, illnesses, teaching Islam, and as martial music.
Ann Kho said that she started the Angklung Group of Cerritos with the help of her friend, Cynthia Inderabudhi, from her First Indonesian Baptist Church, who told her about free Angklungs that she could get from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia. The Embassy wanted to promote playing of the Angklung as part of the Cultural Heritage of Indonesia. Since in-person group activities had been cancelled for 18 months and more during the pandemic, she was eager to teach people how to play the Angklung when outdoor group activities were allowed. The open space of her garage became her classroom. She said she wanted to have people enjoy learning to play a new instrument and have fun while doing it!
Now that Ann has taught 16 people in the Angklung Group of Cerritos so that they know how to play a few melodies on the Angklung, she said that the group is ready to perform music for other groups. Ann directs the Angklung Group by hand motions for each of the eight sounds, or by pointing to numbers on the poster board indicating which pitches are needed for the melody. Two people in the group play the same pitch for each of eight pitches in the music scale. If any group would like to hear the Angklung Group of Cerritos perform, contact the group’s Director, Ann Kho, at 562-441-2894 or e-mail Ann at [email protected]