Without doubt one of the most interesting and distinctive modern composers to come out of Indonesia, I Wayan Sadra was born August 1, 1953 in Denpasar, Bali. He graduated the high school Music Conservatory in 1972 with his specialty being Balinese music in general and the musical style called "gong kebyar" in particular. He then left Bali for Jakarta where he studied painting and taught Balinese gamelan at the Jakarta Fine Arts Institute. During this period he wrote much music for theatre and dance and toured Europe with the prominent choreographer from Central Java, Sardano Kusumo. Later he was invited to the National college of the Arts at Surakarta, Central Java where he earned his degree in composition and joined the faculty where he teaches composition, criticism, and Balinese gamelan.
His international honors are many: he was the first composer to be awarded the New Horizons Award for artistic innovation by the International Society for the Arts, Science and Technology in Berkeley, California. He has been composer-in-residence at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (1991) and guest composer at the Pan Pacific Festival in Wellington, New Zealand (1993).
He was the only composer to be honored with a disc devoted entirely to his works in Lyrichord's distinguished New Music Indonesia series (Volume 3); an earlier disc in the group (Volume 2) "Mana 689" also presented two of his works with compositions by three other Indonesians.
His music is marked most obviously with an effortless blending of disparate, global musical elements and a willingness to use modern instruments mixed freely with traditional ones. Quite often the works are part of mixed-media theatrical/dance performances which can make use of Sadra's love for painting, shadow puppets, and random-activity events such as eggs sizzling on a heated metal panel amplified with microphones.
Snow's Own Dream (1992) marked Sadra's first venture into electronic music -- an exploration into a technical world previously unknown to him. He uses material made by a Balinese suling (bamboo flute) and developed the finished work on the Synclavier. He describes the experience in an article written for the Leonardo Music Journal Vol. 2, No. 1 (1992) entitled "Reflections on a First Experience in Electronic Music."
Sadra's works are available in the west on Lyrichord CDs #7420 and #7421 (New Music Indonesia); a CD from the International Society for Arts, Science and Technology entitled Interactions/New Music for Gamelan; and on a CD which accompanied the first issue of the Leonardo Music Journal in 1991.