Canadian was like a godsend to S'pore gamelan orchestra

Canadian was like a godsend to S'pore gamelan orchestra

SINGAPORE - Earlier this month I attended a memorial at an old terraced house in Little India to celebrate the life of a remarkable Canadian, Nicole Gena Lewis.

Niky, as she was known to those who knew her, would have turned 36 next month if she had survived a car crash last month in Toronto, where she lived with her husband, Diego Andres Garcia, and children Carmencita, 10, and three-month- old Francisco.

Her sudden death was felt deeply by those who turned up at 63, Kerbau Road, home of Gamelan Asmaradana, Singapore's first professional gamelan company.

For four years until she returned to Canada last December to have her baby, Niky was the artistic director of SingaMurti, the company's Balinese section. She was known to many for her passion for gamelan, the traditional Indonesian musical ensemble comprising instruments such as bronze bars, gongs, cymbals, bells and two-sided drums.

She first encountered gamelan as a music student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where she learnt it from renowned musicologist Michael Tenzer.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in orchestral performance in 2000, she spent five months in Bali to learn more, playing gamelan music and learning to dance as well.

Eight years later, she arrived in Singapore when her husband, a videographer and diver, began a new posting. She was keen to play in an ensemble.

"She sought us out because she wanted to take part in our activities just for fun," recalls Ms Chan Mei-yin, 49, executive director and co-founder of Gamelan Asmaradana.

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