Sumatran Sounds is the website for Dr Megan Collins. Contemporary Musicologist and practice based researcher, Megan is a music theorist, composer and radio documentary maker from Wellington, New Zealand. Born and raised on the eastern coast of New Zealand, Megan was educated at Victoria University, Wellington and Institute Seni Indonesia (ISI) the Tertiary Arts Institute in West Sumatra, Indonesia. She speaks English and Indonesian and works predominantly in the domains of ethnomusicology, radio and cross-cultural composition. Megan performs regularly in New Zealand and Indonesia. Her current academic interests include hybridity in music, individual agency in culture and performing ethnography.
NEWS – April 2017
Funtimes! – hosting the Indonesian music and dance group Seni Nan Gombang from Painan, West Sumatra. They performed popular and traditional dance and music at the Southeast Asian Night Market on Wellington’s waterfront. They then travelled to Gisborne to share music and theatre performances, which contain indigenous knowledge about natural disasters, with iwi in Ngati Porou.
A lot of love for a kiwi rabab Pasisia player as I gave a short impromptu performance of a kaba sung narrative opener and the 1980s pop hit ‘Genyang’, during a trip to Agam, West Sumatra. Journalist Maswir Chaniago’s facebook post went viral with 165,000 views and over 6,000 shares.
My 6 part radio documentary How Hybrid, about popular culture and the globalisation of 5 instruments, was broadcast again on RadioNZ in their Summer Sonic programming.
An important interview with Bryan Crump at RadioNZ about how indigenous knowledge that references natural disasters is archived in popular and traditional music in Indonesia. Just a week after our own devastating 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake, during which I was in Sumatra delivering a keynote on this very topic (see below).
I was honoured to give a keynote address for the International Seminar at the 9th Indonesian Arts Festival for tertiary students, which saw the arts institute, Institute Seni Indonesia (ISI) host academics and students from Indonesia’s nine performing arts institutes.
Keynote – “Mengingat Krakatau: Musik, Spiritualitas dan Bencana Alam di Indonesia” (Remembering Krakatau: Music, Spirituality and Natural Disasters in Indonesia).
Selemat Pagi Indonesia
Interview at 01.53 about Gamelan Wellington that was featured on Indonesia’s primetime breakfast show Selamat Pagi Indonesia (good morning Indonesia). With Budi Putra at NZSM, Victoria University (see YouTube NZ Gamelan Metro TV).
‘Vigilance in verse, sumatra sounds’ – Jakarta Post
Indonesian English language daily profiles my work in Sumatra and NZ.
October 2015 – Sumatran contemporary music group Talago Buni – at Frankfurt Book Fair 2015
August 2015 – 20 Years of Gamelan in Dunedin
Indonesian national daily newspaper Kompas reported on Selebrasi 20 Years of Gamelan at Otago University. An honour to travel to Dunedin and deliver the Keynote Address for Joko Susilo and his team. I talked about the prevalence of disaster warnings and messages in the story-lines of Sumatran music. See also Noel Trustram’s multi-media book project ‘Aceh Revives’ and the collaborative project between Gajah Mada University and GNS science, StiRRRD, on disaster risk reduction in Indonesia.
APRA Awards – Sumatran fiddle and gamelan bali
APRA/AMCOS Silver Scrolls appearance. With Gareth Farr, Johnny Marks and Balinese Gong Kebyar style gamelan group Taniwha Jaya. Megan played Sumatran rabab [fiddle] in the style of the late Pirin Asmara for Gareth’s arrangement of Tami Neilson’s song ‘Walk – back to your arms’. Later in the evening ‘Walk’ earned Tami the Silver Scroll (for top song of the year), which was presented to her by Lorde (Wellington 30 October 2014).
“In the end, the Silver Scroll went to Tami Neilson, for her blues belter ‘Walk Back to Your Arms’, which also received my favourite cover interpretation on the night, in being performed by a gamelan orchestra with Gareth Farr and the All Seeing Hand’s Johnny Marks, who did part of his vocal as a convincing throat-singer. It really was quite wow.”
“I could hardly believe what I was seeing or hearing, but I knew it was Tami Neilson’s ‘Walk Back To Your Arms’ – a smart slice of honky-tonky retro in a minor key from her great album Dynamite!, released earlier this year – performed by a gamelan orchestra and shaven-headed, tattooed, howling-and-whistling throat-singer Jonny Marks. That was just one of the highlights of the annual APRA Silver Scroll Award, held last week in Wellington.”
Listen to our rehearsal process with Johnny earlier in the week, with the team from Radio NZ’s ‘Music 101’.
Winter Wayang Shadow Puppet Show (Wellington June 2014). ‘Tinggal’ [Stay] written for Bali gamelan on Naga – New Music for Gamelan, from Rattle (March 2014). Java gamelan sound effects for the film ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’. Watch our rehearsals, lead by Budi Putra at Victoria University, in Peter Jackson’s production diary #14 from 07.00 (Aug 2013). Sumatran rabab in raun sabilik popular music on the south coast, West Sumatra, Ind. (May/June 2013). Sumatran Tiger Puppets at WOMAD Taranaki NZ (March 2012) with Ki Joko Susilo, 8th generation Indonesian shadow puppet master.