One of the most representative elements of Indonesian culture is a gamelan -- a traditional ensemble accompanying dance and wayang theatre. First gamelan concert outside Indonesia took place in the 1950s soon after the country gained independence. The national gamelan ensemble of the Republic of Indonesia during its European tour in 1958 also visited Poland and gave a concert in the Kongresowa Hall in PKiN in Warsaw presenting music, dance and theatre from different provinces of Indonesia. Today gamelan music is popular not only in Indonesia but also in Western Europe and Northern America. Unfortunately, in Poland it is still not well known.
In 1985 the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Warsaw ordered from Java a complete set of gamelan instruments and it was the first musical set brought permanently to Poland. A the beginning of 1990s the Embassy established a cooperation with the Institute of Musicology, UW what initiated meetings of a gamelan workshop ensemble which is still active today. The classes were conducted (in chronological order) by: Soegiyanto (regular consultant), dr Marzanna Popławska, dr Tomasz Nowak, mgr Dawid Martin, Tomasz Matlingiewicz, Marta Kramicz. The workshop ensemble transformed into Warszawska Grupa Gamelanowa (Warsaw Gamelan Group) -- not only the workshop project but first such ensemble in Poland. The group gave concerts in entire Poland (among others in Częstochowa, Gdańsk, Grudziądz, Cracow, Lublin, Olsztyn, Poznań, Toruń, and Warsaw), as well as in the Czech Republic (March 2006), and took part in such events as 4th and 5th Festival of Science and Art in Toruń, and 5th and 7th Crossdrumming Festival -the International Percussion Art Festival in Warsaw.
From the beginning of 2007 the ensemble leads an independent concert activities. The effect of the cooperation of the Institute of Musicology and the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Warsaw are also ten grant holders of the DARMASISWA program run since 1978 by the Ministry of Culture and Education of the Republic of Indonesia -- the first Polish grant holder of the program was the IMUW graduate, Marzanna Popławska.
23 October 2006 a former employee of the University of Warsaw and a patron of Indonesian art, Wanda Kotowicz, funded and handed over to the Institute of Musicology, UW full set of a middle Javan gamelan instruments, the largest set of this type in Poland and one of the best in Europe. The instruments are used by almost thirty students playing in the gamelan workshop ensemble. The aim of the group is to enable students of the University of Warsaw to acquire some practical knowledge of the music culture of Java, to encourage an art activity of the students and to promote the Indonesian culture in Poland. The group perform middle Java music of different kind and historic periods. At the moment the supervisor of the group is mgr Dawid Martin.