Though I didn’t know him very well personally, I will never forget Suhirdjan’s innovative spirit. He was of immeasurable help guiding me through my first gamelan ordering experience in 2000-2001. The two (later split into three) Suhirjan gamelans I ordered for the 450-school Toronto District School Board have stood the test of time and tens of thousands of young TDSB student hands, spreading Javanese culture throughout far-off Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I’d like to point out just one feature of the gamelans, the attractive result of a unique collaborative design. Carved into some of the instrument cases is a crest incorporating symbols of our two countries and regions. Out of the top lobe of a Canadian maple leaf grows the tail feathers of the Indonesian Garuda. They jointly frame two Javanese nagas protecting the trillium flower a symbol of the province of Ontario.
I think Mas Hirdjan would have enjoyed knowing that his gamelans are cherished and actively being used for teaching in Toronto – in over 100 schools to date. His instruments are a testament to the innovation, careful workmanship and attention to quality and detail which were his hallmark, a living legacy which can be found in music making around the world.
York University, Toronto, Canada
Founding Director, Gamelan Program, Toronto District School Board
Founding member, Artistic Director Emeritus, Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan