The gamelan is a complete percussion orchestra from the workshop of Pak Tentrem Sarwento in Java. The sessions encourage people, from the youngest to oldest to engage in and enjoy arts activity and experience the inclusive nature of gamelan.

The St David’s Hall gamelan is a complete Javanese percussion orchestra from the workshop of Pak Tentrem Sarwento in Java. The set was bought by the former St David’s Hall and New Theatre Trust (now the Arts Active Trust), with the support of a National Lottery Grant from the Arts Council for Wales, and arrived in Cardiff in April 1998. Since then, thousands of people of all ages have come from far and wide to enjoy playing and listening to the music of the St David’s Hall gamelan. 

Try Gamelan

Here at Arts Active we aim to encourage people, from the youngest to oldest, to engage in and enjoy arts activity. Our gamelan programme offers regular courses and workshops for people of all ages and abilities to be able to experience the inclusive nature of gamelan. From two-hour workshops introducing gamelan to those who have never tried it, to weekend courses for those who regularly practise gamelan and wish to expand their knowledge and skills, we aim to offer something for everyone interested in the gamelan world.

Cardiff Gamelan

Cardiff Gamelan is our community ensemble, which meets regularly on Tuesday evenings. Repertoire includes both traditional Javanese music and western compositions for gamelan. Gamelan is a wonderfully versatile set of instruments, allowing people of all ages and abilities to take part. The group welcomes new members to join this mixed ability group, regardless of previous experience. Each weekly session is held in the Lefel 1 Studio at St David’s Hall from 6pm to 8pm.

Musical Director: Helen Woods | Gamelan Producer: Rhian Workman

School groups from all over south Wales have taken part in lively taster workshops, playing together as a class often for the first time. Gamelan is accessible to all, regardless of any prior musical experience, and whilst it may take many years to master some pieces and styles it is possible for a group to be able to play a basic traditional style piece after just a couple of hours.

The Cardiff University gamelan ensemble and students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama have benefitted from regular opportunities to play the St David’s Hall gamelan,  while our community ensemble, Cardiff Gamelan, rehearse every week on Tuesday evenings.

Email for more detailed information on the sessions or how to join our weekly workshops. For packages and costs for schools, please click here:

Schools Workshops

Taster workshops of the St David’s Hall gamelan introduce students to the music of Java. Each elaborate instrument based in St David’s Hall is made from bronze, with traditional hand-finished wood carvings. The gamelan set consists of tuned percussion instruments, drums and gongs. The look of the instruments alone is enough to convey a sense of Javanese culture and the sounds and music are simply exhilarating – an educational treat.

Gamelan is a fun, stimulating experience with an important role to play in music education at all levels. Our gamelan sessions address many of the concepts in the music curriculum for key stage 1, 2 and 3, including links to the numeracy and literature framework. Gamelan not only delivers ‘music of other cultures’ effectively, but can also contribute to music teaching in other ways, giving the opportunity to use new sounds and respond to music individually and as a class.

St David’s Hall Schools Gamelan workshops have been praised by Viv John, Cardiff School of Education, UWIC. “It was great to be able to play authentic instruments and the students were given a good grounding in the style as well as useful ideas on how to implement it in a classroom”.

The students are actively and creatively involved throughout the session, which develops their listening skills, flexibility and group music-making. This in turn enhances problem solving, communication and self-confidence – all of which are valuable in personal and academic development. Gamelan provides a chance to educate students in an enjoyable and relaxed environment. No experience is needed to take part in this unique workshop. Sessions are led by experienced Gamelan musicians and are highly beneficial for both students and teachers.

For package and costs, please click here: Try Gamelan for schools information

Cardiff Classical

Sign up to our mailing list to receive information on all Arts Active activities, including our classical music concerts across Cardiff.

Sign Up Now

Plwg is the place for artists and teachers to find and share great arts education opportunities is the all-Wales arts, culture and education matchmaking website to support collaboration between teachers, creatives, arts and cultural organisations.