Margaret Kartomi receives major award in Indonesia

Margaret Kartomi (right) in traditional Lampung-Indonesian costume with two Indonesian choreographer-awardees holding her cultural award at the ceremony in Jakarta Theatre

Margaret Kartomi (right) in traditional Lampung-Indonesian costume with two Indonesian choreographer-awardees holding her cultural award at the ceremony in the Jakarta Theatre

Monash Arts ethnomusicologist Professor Margaret Kartomi has received the 2016 Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture's prestigious Penghargaan Kebudayaan (Cultural Awards – Foreign Individuals category), one of only three individuals to be so recognised.

The Ministry has been making cultural awards in different categories to its citizens annually since 2012. The new category of ‘Foreign Individuals' (Perorangan Asing) was instituted in 2015, and the Ministry began awarding three such Penghargaan Kebudayaan each year, for people who have made great contributions to the promotion and/or conservation of Indonesian arts and culture despite having different nationalities.

Professor Kartomi received the award from the Indonesian Minister of Education and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy, at a well-attended public evening concert and ceremony held at the Jakarta Arts Centre on September 28th 2016. 

Margaret Kartomi receiving her gold award pin at the ceremony in Jakarta Theatre. Photo by Dr Karen Kartomi Thomas.

Margaret Kartomi receiving her gold award pin at the Jakarta Theatre ceremony. Photo by Dr Karen Kartomi Thomas.

The award reads: ‘The Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia presents this Certificate to Margaret J Kartomi for her dedication and contributions as an expert ethnomusicologist and author of many academic books and articles on the traditional music of Indonesia as well as teaching and researching the music of Asia in Australia and for founding Monash University’s Sumatra Music Archive and the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU).'

The head of the Ministry’s Cultural Diplomacy Section, Dr Nadjamuddin Ramly, had previously visited Professor Kartomi at the Music Archive of Monash University to interview her about her publications and achievements for a video that was shown as she received the award.

Professor Kartomi's photo and the story of her contributions to Indonesian culture was also displayed on a poster in the foyer of the Jakarta Theatre.

Professor Kartomi said she was thrilled to receive this recognition from Indonesia where she, with her husband Hidris Kartomi and more recently her daughter Dr Karen Kartomi Thomas, have carried out so many field and recording trips and met so many wonderful artists, elders and cultural experts over the past 40 years.

“Indonesia is extraordinarily rich in in the beauty and diversity of its traditional music, dance, drama, bardic and martial,” she said.

Margaret Kartomi is Professor of Music at Monash University, and she has dedicated most of her life to researching music, especially the music-cultures of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Maluku, Flores and the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. Margaret is a pianist, composer, musicologist and ethnomusicologist who is still active supervising postgraduate students' research on the music of Indonesia and beyond.

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See Margaret receiving the award below