During the early 1930s in the land of Parahiyangan in Indonesia, a young boy became fascinated with the hums of the angklung, a traditional musical instrument of the Sundanese made of bamboo. An angklung consists of one single note that creates a soothing cord; it then produces sound when being shaken rapidly. The angklung was not only an admired instrument of the young but a famous tool of adult musicians as well. The harmony and uniqueness of the sound of the angklung once escorted every child of the village to his circumcision, to his adulthood, to his marriage and even through celebrations during harvest time. The angklung was then the bringer of happiness and inspiration behind the Saung Angklung Udjo.
As the young boy who fell in love with that instrument grew up, he did not want his memories of the angklung to fade as he also wanted the next generation to feel the magic the angklung provided him. In the turn of 1955, that young boy then became mature enough to learn the angklung from the master of angklung himself, the late Daeng Soetigna, the founder of angklung music. Today, that little boy has turned into an old man with a long white beard that still puts on angklung performances to date. Udjo Ngalagena has been around the world to perform his much loved hobby and has been widely recognized and rewarded in his home country and abroad.
With his deep intention to share the magic of angklung to the world, he established the Saung Angklung Udjo in January of 1967 with his wife Uum Sumiati. It then quickly became a popular tourist attraction in Bandung. It also became the center for Sundanese traditional culture as well as the chief angklung venue in the West Java region.
The Saung is not only famous for the music that it produces but also because for the children who lovingly and joyfully perform the beautiful music. A small group of children are often seen performing dynamic presentations with natural and innocent expressions. Udjo or Mang Udjo as he is known to many often explains to not expect exceptional performances as there will certainly be mistakes committed by such young performers. Mang Udjo then asks to focus not on the quality of the performance but on the activity instead.
Daily musical performances are put on at the Saung. The music of the angklung is incorporated with an inspiring story about a young boy and his quest for happiness. Visitors will indeed be amazed by what little children can do with such instruments. Even more admirable is how they spontaneously show their love for playing their music in their gestures and faces.
Today, the Saung has at least a thousand visitors a month that come all the way from America, Europe and Africa. A visit to Saung Angklung Udjo celebrates not only the magical music produced by the angklung but also innocence and youth provided by the children that adoringly play the music that they love. Became of the simple love for music of a single man, the Saung has then grown to mold a new generation of music lovers.