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 Jakarta Theatre

Monash Arts ethnomusicologist, Professor Margaret Kartomi, was flown to Jakarta last week to receive the ‘Piagam Penghargaan Kebudayaan’ (Certificate of Cultural Appreciation award) from the Indonesian Minister of Education and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy.

The award included a gold brooch presented by the Minister, and was part of a well-attended public evening concert and ceremony held in the Jakarta Arts Centre on September 28th.

The award read: ‘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).’

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 ceremony in Jakarta Theatre. Photo by Dr Karen Kartomi Thomas.

The head of the Ministry’s Cultural Diplomacy Section Dr Nadjamuddin Ramly had previously visited Margaret 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.

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

Three awards in the category of Foreign Contributors were presented at the event: to Margaret, and to two Australian historians of Indonesia, Professors Merle Ricklefs and Anthony Reid, along with around 50 Indonesian maestros and cultural icons in Indonesia’s provinces in the national Indonesian category.

Margaret 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,” Margaret 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