Episode 153 – Kulintang Kultura: A Conversation with Theo Gonzalves and Mary Talusan Lacanlale

Kulintang (literally meaning “golden sound moving” in English), is the gong and drum ensemble indigenous to the Sulu and Mindanao islands in the southern Philippines  This classical music genre has resonated across the Philippines and throughout the Filipino diaspora. As a way to honor and archive the rich sounds of kulintang, the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings recently released Kulintang Kultura: Danongan Kalanduyan and Gong Music of the Philippine Diaspora, a two cd-set full of traditional and contemporary takes of this musical genre. The collection is a tribute to the late Guro Danongan “Danny” Kalanduyan, a champion of kulintang and U.S. National Heritage Fellow, a lifetime honor awarded to him by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1995.

Joining us on this TFAL episode are Kulintang Kultura co-producers Theodore S. Gonzalves and Mary Talusan Lacanlale. As scholars and artists, Theo and Mary discuss the past and future of kulintang, the sonic rhythms of the instrument which have the ability to capture the sounds of Filipino America, and what we can all do to keep this artform alive.

Listen to or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

When was the first time you first listened to kulintang?  Do you have a story you think we should tell?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.


Theo Gonzalves currently serves as Interim Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and is a scholar of comparative cultural studies, focusing on the experiences of Asian American / Filipino American communities. He has taught in the United States (California, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, and Maryland), Spain, and the Philippines.

Mary Talusan Lacanlale is an assistant professor of Asian-Pacific Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and specializes in Filipino and Filipino American music and culture.  Her book Instruments of Empire: Filipino Musicians, Black Soldiers, and Military Band Music during U.S. Colonization of the Philippines was published by University Press of Mississippi.

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