While studying classical gamelan on a scholarship in Bali, Vaughan Hatch became aware of how negatively mass tourism was affecting traditional performing art forms. Few classical gamelan ensembles had been recorded and many gamelan were either no longer played or had been melted down. In the year 2000, Vaughan chanced upon purchasing and restoring a disused antique semar pegulingan gamelan and came up with the concept of Mekar Bhuana, with the aim of preserving endangered classical gamelan and its extensive repertoire. Since 1997, he has been researching semara pagulingan and other rare types of Balinese gamelan.
In 2002 he met Putu Evie Suyadnyani, a talented Legong dancer and singer who is now his wife, who also shared the vision of preservation and reconstruction. Together they combined the music and dance aspects, forming the Mekar Bhuana Conservatory in 2004. As well as running the conservatory and its online store, they enjoy playing selonding, angklung and gender wayang together with their family group at ceremonies around Bali.
Watch a video about co-founder, Putu Evie Suyadnyani:
and hear Vaughan talk about Balinese gamelan on this mini documentary: