Lightbulb Ensemble (Oakland/Santa Cruz) performs on custom-built metallic and wooden bar instruments, built and tuned by ensemble director Brian Baumbusch after years of immersion into Balinese gamelan and its music.

The ensemble’s music uses the intricate, interlocking rhythms of Balinese gamelan, filtered through the lenses of 1970s Downtown minimalism and the tuning and instrument-building tradition of Harry Partch. They will perform their evening-length work Mikrokosma, co-composed by Baumbusch and Wayne Vitale, for the first time in Santa Cruz.

Lightbulb Ensemble

“As cutting edge as cutting edge gets, exhuberantly complex, maddeningly beautiful, and as intoxicating as a drug.” —The Washington Post

Lightbulb Ensemble (LBE) is a new music percussion ensemble that champions experimental music, instrument building, and contemporary gamelan. The ensemble emerged from the culture of new music at Mills College and the longstanding artistic exchange between Bali and the US fostered by Gamelan Sekar Jaya. LBE performs on steel metallophones, wooden marimbas, and other instruments designed, tuned, and built by Brian Baumbusch, LBE founder and director. Performing only new repertoire, the group presents in-house compositions and collaborates with other artists of the new music community, including the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the JACK Quartet, Jessika Kenney and Eyvind Kang, and The Center for Contemporary Music, among others.

Members of the group include Brian Baumbusch, Maurissa Dorn, Dave Douglas, Carla Fabrizio, Lucas Helland, James Iwamasa, Sarang Kim, Lydia Martin, Keenan Pepper, Scott Siler, Daniel Steffey, Wayne Vitale, and Sarah Willner.

“Mikrokosma” is an hour­long suite of pieces that form a musical exploration of the microcosms of Bali­Hindu cosmology, where the universe is reflected and re­created, fractal­like, in all its parts. “Mikrokosma” is the conception and musical creation of Wayne Vitale – a founding member and past director of Gamelan Sekar Jaya – and Brian Baumbusch, director of the Lightbulb Ensemble as well as designer, tuner, and builder of the instruments. Both composers have been immersed in the music of Bali for many years, and in the world of experimental, hybrid music that is thriving in Bali and in the California Bay Area. “Mikrokosma” is a product of that interaction.