Monthly Archive for May, 2010

Marimba 2010 – Press Coverage

The Marimba 2010 International Festival and Conference was covered by a number of press outlets. Thanks to Fernando Meza for compiling this list and allowing me to share it.

Wall Street Journal “Ay, Marimba

Marimba One – Press Release “Twin Cities to Host World Marimba Festival

Star Tribune “Marimba meets Mahler at Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Public Radio “All Things Considered” (Podcast) and article – “The biggest marimba event ever unfolds in Minnesota

3 Minute Egg – “More Marimba: Stephen Paulus

3 Minute Egg – “More Marimba Mary Ellen Childs

Jupiter Band Instruments article on Marimba 2010 featuring Casey Cangelosi and Janus Percussion (link added here 7/26/2010)

VocalEssence.org –  Video Performance of Visions (world premiere by Stephen Paulus)

Ivana Bilic is performing on my Marimba One for this concert.

Marimba 2010 – Final Day of Performances

The final day of the Marimba 2010 International Festival and Conference was Saturday May 1st. It started early again so let’s get right to it!

8am – “Marimba Roots: Traditional Marimbas In Costa Rica and Mexico” Fernando Meza and the Ensamble de Percusion Costa Rica presented the first section. They detailed the construction of the Costa Rica marimbas (pigs gut is what makes the buzzing sound) and played some musical examples. The “Bomba” is musical phrase that someone yells out to stop the musicians from playing.  Someone then has to recite a four line poem that rhymes. A few people in the audience got into in and the performers enjoyed thier contribution.  The second half was Marimba Nadayapa and the traditional characteristics of the Mexican marimba. One interesting thing I learned was there is an extra low b flat on these marimbas. The marimba has a slightly different layout at the bottom. Where there is normally a C# there is instead a Bb and the C# is placed to the right. These instruments are used at kid’s birthday parties, weddings, and funerals throughout Chiapas and the rest of Mexico.

9am – “Voices from the New Generation” had performances by Casey Cangelosi and Pius Cheung. Cangelosi played “Etude in a minor No. 2”, “Character No. 5”, “Prelude in f minor”, and “White Knuckle Stroll”. Pius Cheung performed “Etude in d minor”, “Etude in c# minor”, “Etude in D Major”, “Musical Moment No. 5 – Romance”, “Etude in e minor”. These pieces were all originals from the respective performers and show that the next generation of marimbists are well on their way to becoming marimba masters.

9am-1pm – “A Multiple-Hour Performance” performed by Alan Zimmerman at the Regis Center for Art. Across the street Alan Zimmerman was performing a concert that featured one piece called “marimba, bow, stone, player (I), (II), (III), & (IV)” by Kunsu Shim. This piece is for one marimba player with two bows and stones. I forgot to take a break and walk over to hear part of this piece. If anyone saw it, feel free to comment as this one sounded interesting.

10am – “Marimba And … (Part 2)” – These performances features the marimba in non-solo settings. Andrew Beall started with his composition “Song of Almah (with strings)”. Assisting him was soprano Amanda Dunning and the Erato Chamber Orchestra with Richard Haglund conducting. Beall stated that this will be part of a Broadway musical in a few years. The text is from the Old Testament book Song of Solomon. The performance included the movements 1 and 3. Beverley Johnson performed her husband Christos Hatzis piece “In The Fire of Conflict” for marimba and tape. The music track contains rap lyrics and according to Johnston it “is the first work in which I have used rap music but I am sure it will not be the last”. This newest revision of this piece was also played last year at the Zeltsman Marimba Festival. The final piece was Ricardo Lorenz’s “Piedra en la Piedra” performed by Scotty Horey (with Jenifer Hanson, flute).

11am – “Works for Marimba and Vibraphone”. This aptly named session started with Alejandro Vinao’s “Arabesco Infinito” performed by Svet Stoyanov and William Moersch. A tremendous amount of notes that just kept coming were handled musically by both performers. Anders Koppel’s “Tocatta” and Toru Takemitsu’s “Cross Hatch” were performed by Janus Percussion. Anna Ignatowicz Glinska’s “Passacaglia” and Arkadiusz Katny’s “Chain III” were performed by Katarzyna Mycka and Svet Stoyanov. The final piece was Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint” performed by Svet Stoyanov. This was a great arrangement of this piece originally written for Pat Metheny and guitar.

There was enough time for another run to Jimmy Johns for lunch and some mingling with the vendors. I will post some pictures in a future post.

1pm – “Concerti” started with “Concerto For Ivana” (for marimba, piano, and percussion) performed by Ivana Bilic (with Brian Duffy, Erik Barsness, Adam Rappel – percussion and Timothy Lovelace, piano). Next was Jorge Sarmientos’ “Concierto para marimba y orquesta” performed by James Price (with John Jensen, piano).

2pm – “Asian Connections” started with Keiko Abe’s “Variations on Japanese Children’s Songs” and Kazunori Miyake’s “Chain” performed by Ji Hye Jung. Yoshio Hachimura’s “Ahania (mvmt 1)” and Yasuo Sueyoshi’s “Mirage pour Marimba” concluded this performance.

3pm – “Marimba Six-Mallets” – Rin Ozaki performed Keiko Abe’s “Itsuki Fantasy” to start the session. Kai Stensgaard performed his “Salsa Mexicana” and “Zita”, followed by Ariel Ramirez’s “Gloria from Misa Criolla”. A couple of these pieces used ankle bells in addition to 6-mallet technique. Chung-Ying Chang’s “Ma Olah”, Pei-Ching Wu and Koji Sakurai’s “No One Is an Island” was performed by Pei Ching Wu.

The final piece was a show-stopper. Chung-Ying Chang’s “Solar Myth” (for marimba and three percussionists) was performed by Pei Ching Wu, Hans Fredrickson, Eric Richardson, and Derek Olson from the University of Minnesota Percussion Ensemble. This piece does require the marimbist to play 6-mallets however if you have someone who can pull that off, the audience appreciation you will receive from the entire performance will be worth the practice time. This piece was performed with bright red costumes and some white masks. The 3 percussionists move around the stage playing at various stations. My favorite part was the choreography between the percussionists as they tossed folding fans to each other in rhythm. This one is a new composition from 2009 and will certainly be making the rounds of percussion recitals. Congratulations to the performers for putting this one together. The audience loved it and so did I.

4pm – “Classics From Japan” was the final hour of performances at the Ted Mann Concert Hall. Akira Miyoshi’s “Conversation – Suite for Marimba” performed by Mutsuko Fujii. Rika Fujii performed Miyoshi’s “Ripple”. They both stayed on stage to perform the world premiere marimba duet “The Plum Blossoms” by Eiko Orita. This one was stunning. Both players incorporated rolls to create a comfortable sound that I could listen to for weeks. “Hiten Seido III” by Maki Ishii” was performed by Mutsuko Fujii and Eriko Daimo performed “Ku” by Hirotake Kitakata. The finale was Minoru Miki’s “Marimba Spiritual” performed by Eriko Daimo (with Fernando Meza, Casey Cangelosi, Bismarck Fernandez, Rika Fujii, and Mu-Daiko members Susan Tanabe and Joe Mignano).

I am planning a few more posts to show some photos, to list all of the other press links about the event and to give my final perspective on the entire week.

Marimba 2010 – VocalEssence “Mallets and Melodies” Concert

Day 3 of the Marimba 2010 Festival and Conference concluded with 3 concerts for the attendees to choose from. The choices were The Minnesota Orchestra’s second performance of Nebojsa Zivkovic’s “Concerto No. 2 (for marimba and orchestra)”, the second performance of So Percussions’ “Southern Presents…” concert, or the VocalEssence “Mallets and Melodies” concert. I headed over to the VocalEssence concert at the Cathedral of Saint Paul.

The following pieces were performed:

Giovanni Gabrieli’s “Magnificat a33” arranged by Scott Hirsch for 20 marimbas and chorus – performed by 30 marimba players and the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers

Jorge Cordoba’s “Aqui ha nacido el tiempo” (world premiere) – based on the poetry of Roberto Moreno – performed by Marimba Nandayapa and the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers

Peter Klatzow’s “Return of the Moon” (movements 1, 4, 5) – performed by Svet Stoyanov, marimba and the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers

Stephen Paulus’ “Pilgrim’s Hymn” (world premiere) – performed by Nanae Mimura and Nancy Zeltsman, marimbas and the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers

Samuel Barber’s “Adagio” arranged for 20 marimbas by Robert Chappell – performed by the University of Minnesota Marimba Ensemble and Friends

Stephen Paulus’ “Visions” (world premiere) – performed by She-e Wu, Ivana Bilic, Angel Frette, Fernando Meza, marimbas, and VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers

Eric Sayre’s “In Paradisum” – performed by the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers

Sowah Mensah’s arrangement of “Bawa – A Dagara Harvest Dance” – performed by the Macalester College African Music Ensemble and the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers

Highlights of this concert for me were both of the Steven Paulus pieces. “Pilgrim’ Hymn” is a gorgeous choir work on its own. Mimura and Zeltsman added rolling marimba chords underneath which made it sound even more beautiful. I hope this arrangement is published as I feel it would be well suited for a church setting.

Wu, Frette, Bilic, and Meza were expressive in their playing on “Visions”. Each of the marimbas were in four corners of the cathedral mixed in with the choir. The sound came from all around you as you listened to this piece.

The University of Minnesota Marimba Ensemble performed well too. The marimbas were lined up in the aisles between the 4 corners of the cathedral and made you feel like you were inside the marimbas themselves.

The only critique I can say about the evening is that because of the over 7 second decay time, there were a couple points in the program when all of the performers were not completely in sync.

Will Friedwald of The Wall Street Journal called this concert “the most immersive performance I’ve ever experienced”. There is also a YouTube video of the “Visions” world premiere. If you look closely you can see that Ivana Bilic is performing on my Marimba One.

Marimba 2010 – Day 3 Performances

Day 3 of Marimba 2010 didn’t start with traffic problems as I headed down to the Ted Mann Concert Hall. What did delay me was a great conversation with Dr. Nathan Daughtrey from the Classical Marimba League. We discussed various marimba topics from composition to marimba brands. It is conversations like those that are also a great part of marimba gatherings like this. We first met when the Classical Marimba League concerts came to the University of Minnesota last year.

8am – “Marimba Roots Marimbas from Zimbabwe and Guatemala” was a set of presentations from Carey Sirianni and Lester Homero Godinez Orantes. Using slides as well as musical examples, he took the audience through the history of the marimba from both of these cultures perspectives. My marimba knowledge comes more from the US and Japan so this was all new information for me and further showed one of the festival’s goals of showing the world perspective on the marimba.

9am – “Classical Marimba League Competition Winners” concert featured:

3rd place – Setsuko Kutsuno performing Druckman’s “Reflections on the Nature of Water” and “The Source” by Toshi Ichiyanagi (instead of the originally programed  “Velocities” by Schwantner).

2nd place – Mei-Shyuan Chiu performing Reynolds “Islands from Archipelado II. Autumn Island”.

1st place – Sabrina Suk Wai Ma performing Lansky’s “3 Moves for Marimba – Hop (2)” and Sueyoshi’s “Mirage pour Marimba” and Sejourne’s “Nancy”.

Seeing a piece like “Nancy” played by a professional marimbist was a real treat. This piece is easier compared with most of the literature performed at the festival. It served as a reminder that it doesn’t have to be hard to be beautiful and touching. All of the performers clearly showed why they were the competition winners.

10am – “Duos” was the aptly named title of this session. But before that, there was a change in the program as Eric Sammut performed now instead of at the 11am session. The piece he performed was his commission called “Sugaria (for marimba, strings three percussionists and amplified bass)”. It was a concerto in 3 movements that was dedicated to his daughter Nina. Eric Sammut doesn’t need my silly blog to say he is a virtuoso but I will anyway. He is a virtuoso.

Reich’s “Nagoya Marimbas” and Rogers “Once Removed” were performed by the Mehan/Perkins Duo. Nanae Mimura and Nancy Zeltsman performed “We Too” which is the Mimura’s arrangement of the second movement of Levitan’s Marimba Quartet.

Momoko Kamiya and Eriko Daimo performed “Atom Hearts Club Duo Op. 70a” a work in 4 movements originally for guitars by Takashi Yoshimatsu. Finally Steven Whibley’s “Espiritu Libre” was performed by Maraca2 and the Minnesota State University Moorhead Percussion Ensemble. This piece flowed brilliantly from their 4 hands. It was also great to see another local ensemble joining in the festival. Although a 3-4 hour drive might not be considered by some to be local.

11am – “European Connections” featured Brontons “Sonatina Aquiferous Op. 101” and Turina’s “Saeta” performed by Carolina Alcaraz. Pedro Carneiro then performed Psathas’ “One Study One Summary” and “Liquid Bars” which were both for marimba and electronics.

Lunch at Jimmy Johns and back for more.

1pm – “Marimba and … (Part I)” featured marimba and tape compositions. Carolina Alcaraz performed Reina’s “Mekaze conun enana por jartame de rei (Bulerias Serafinas). Next was Casey Cangelosi’s “Walking Left Handed” which is about a woman who describes the effects of LSD on her. She insists that even though she is color blind she can see color when using. Reading those program notes before the piece started was interesting enough until all of the lights went out and candles were lit. Now we are talking! Since the goal was to put your perception in flux during this piece – I can agree that was accomplished. If you are looking for an interesting college recital piece, give this one a serious look.

“Fertility Rites” by Beverley Johnston’s husband Christos Hatzis was next. I have this piece on her CD but it is best seen live. Johnston had to deal with a mallet head flying off of the handle but continued without even being phased. Whibley’s “Blue Motion” was very notey and fast paced!

2pm – “Marimba in Japan” Momoko Kamiya returns to perform Muramatsu’s “Spirit” and Kitakata’s “Hato Oto”. Spirit is not like “Blossoms in the Sunlight” and “Land” but does have the same audience pleasing movie score feeling of Muramatsu’s music. This is definitely another one to add to the repertoire list! “Hato Oto” was performed last year at the Classical Marimba League contest and I was thrilled to hear it again. This piece has some nice jazzy elements and is another crowd-pleaser. The US premiere of “Three Fragments of Piya” by Nishimura was next performed by Pedro Carneiro. After that was Yoshioka’s “Divertimento for three marimbas” performed by Takayoshi Yoshioka and the Minimums. This piece is a possibility for the MacRimba ensemble  that I play in. It reminded me at times of a merry-go-round. The final piece was Yoshioka’s “Three Dances” which added multi-percussion in addition to the marimba.

3pm – “World Premieres” started with Libby Larsen’s “Like Blind Man Tapping in the Dark (for marimba four-hands)” performed by Svet Stoyanov and William Moersch. Paul Smadbeck was next performing his own “Fernando’s Waltz”. This piece was commissioned for this festival and was named after the artistic director and host Fernando Meza. More similar to “Virginia Tate” than “Rhythm Song” this piece will be a recital favorite as soon as it is published. “Dreaming of the Red Chamber” by Chien-Hui Hung was a 6-mallet piece performed by Pei-Ching Wu. Kai Stensgaard performed his “Hexagram”. This is more of an advanced piece for those 6-mallet folks out there. It was great to have so many premieres one after another.

4pm – “Transcriptions” started with Katarzyna Mycka performing Mozart’s “Adagio for Glass Harmonica” followed by “Danse des Chevaliers from Romeo and Juliet”. Ji Hye Jung then performed Keith Jarrett’s “Koln Concert (Part IIc).

And then the world stopped for a moment.

Pius Cheung performed J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations Aria”. Everyone stop what they are doing now and buy this CD from Steve Weiss Music. No seriously. This performance received a standing ovation! But wait there is more. Eriko Daimo joined him to perform J. S. Bach’s “Keyboard Concerto in d minor”. Eriko Daimo has a playful smile that says “I know something you don’t know”.

Nanae Mimura completed this session with Pietro Mascagni’s “Intermezzo” from Cavalleria Rusticana (with introduction of Holst’s Jupiter). She then played Debussy’s “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum” and a jazzy arrangement of Richard Rodger’s “My Favorite Things”.

It is hard to image there were evening concerts and one more entire day of concerts but there was. More information on those concerts coming next.

Marimba 2010 – Day 2 Performances

I forgot that it takes a little bit longer to head downtown for an 8am marimba festival when it is a weekday! That is okay as some of the college students don’t normally see 8am either but when you have this many performances you have to start early!

The morning started with “Marimba Roots: The Gyil – African Xylophone”. Valerie Naranjo played a few pieces on the gyil as well as the marimba. She has a number of these arrangements on her web site at: http://www.mandaramusic.com/. I purchased the piece called “Banda Jel” after the session. Bernard Woma Ensemble and Sowah Mensa also presented.

9am – “Latin American Connections and Influences” featured Guillo Espel’s “Zamba para escuchar tu silencio” performed by Angel Frette as well as Espel’s Argentine folk song “Ritual y su Metafora” . “Zamba” has showed up on a few marimba repertoire lists and is a piece I music that will require me to hunt for it on a marimba CD.

Javier Nadayapa performed Luis Trejo’s “Chiaparimba III” which was written for the traditional Mexican marimba and called for some unique mallets that had shakers inside them.

The Natsu & Kayo Duo performed a number of pieces with some nice latin backup grooves from the Costa Rica contingent and even a little audience participation!

I spent the 10am block chatting with the vendors – DeMorrow Instruments, Encore Mallets, Innovative Percussion before heading across the river to the Weisman Art Museum. The session that was going on was “Central American Voices” presented by the Costa Rica UNED Percussion Ensemble.

11am – “CLA Scholarly Events: Marimba In Traditional and Contemporary Musical Thought”

My Marimba One was used as one of the marimbas in this session and it never sounded greater in this intimate space played by Valerie Naranjo and Javier Nandayapa. Next up was Kai Stensgaard playing his “Triglyf I” and “Two Mayan Dances”. I have never used 6-mallet technique on the marimba before. According to Stensgaard, the Mayan Dances are good ones to start on.

Elsewhere around the metro at 11am, the Minnesota Orchestra had the first of 3 concerts featuring Nebojsa J. Zivkovic and his “Concerto No. 2 for Marimba and Orchestra” as well as “Marimba Music By Marimbists” featuring Julie Spencer, Gordon Stout, Takayoshi Yoshioka and the “Minimums”. At noon, at the Landmark Center, was the Janus Percussion Duo performing a couple world premieres. One was called “World Premiere” by Abbie Betinis, and the other was Alexis A. Orfaly’s “Bib Bob’s Return” which I was sorry to have missed.

1pm – Back at the Weisman Art Museum, it was time for “Recent Compositions” where I joined my friends Josh and Jenny in the audience for a mini Zeltsman Marimba Festival reunion. We listened to many pieces from the Intermediate Masterworks for Marimba collection. Ivana Bilic performed Steve Mackey’s “Beast”. Beverley Johnston performed “Cinnabar Heart” and “Bones”. Nancy Zeltsman performing Carla Bley’s “Over There”. This collection continues to impress. “Bones” isn’t part of the collection but is a recent composition that involves speaking names of Ontario cities as part of the performance.

2pm – For the final hour at Weisman there was supposed to be a “Something Old, Something New” performance but because the Schorn/Mancinelli Duo wasn’t able to attend the festival, this concert didn’t have their two premieres. But we did have Schwantner’s “Velocities”, and Vinao’s “Khan Variations” performed by Ji Hye Jung and Svet Stoyanov. Both of these marimbists are part of the vicfirth.com concert podcast and Ji Hye Jung is the organizer for the new John Serry marimba commission (as I have blogged about previously). Both of these pieces are quite challenging marimba standards. What I really enjoyed was the ease at which they were performed by these two.

There was a small break since the session ended early so it was time for a very late lunch at the U of M and then back over to the Ted Mann Concert Hall.

3:30pm – 5pm – The next section of Marimba 2010 was 3 marimba concertos performed by three different ensembles and three different soloists. This allowed some of the local symphonies and wind ensembles to participate in the festival as well as showcasing the outstanding marimba soloists.

Katarzyna Mycka started first with Emmanuel Sejourne’s “Concerto (for marimba and strings)”. Manny Laureano conducted the Minnesota Youth Symphony. I might sound like a broken record by constantly being impressed by these performances but it really was that good. I was blown away by the amazing music (this concerto is a winner), the incredible soloist (effortless), and the skill level of this youth symphony. Congratulations to the students!

Mark Russell Smith conducted the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra with Carolina Alcaraz performing Igmar Alderete Acosta’s “Concerto No. 2 (for marimba and orchestra)”. This was also a world premiere commission for this festival. The program notes state “this Concerto full of rhythmic and harmonic richness, is a set of structures and cells in which the composer manages to combine with real elegance, the popular rhythms of his native country (Cuba) with classical forms of composition.”

Finally Craig Kirchhoff conducted the University of Minnesota Wind Ensemble which performed David Gillingham’s “Concerto (for marimba and wind ensemble)”. She-e Wu was the soloist and performed movements one and three. This was an audience pleasing concerto with running passages up and down the marimba.

The evening featured a concert by So Percussion at the Southern Theatre and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra – Engine 408 concert series. The latter was sold out and I heard great things from those that attended these concerts.

Marimba 2010 – Opening Concert “A World of Marimba”

The Marimba 2010 Festival and Conference was held last week here in Minneapolis Minnesota and I was one of the thousands of people that attended the festival. I am going to present a number of blog posts on the entire festival over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned. I knew this festival would be large but I had no idea it would be this large until I arrived. Think of this festival as a mix between PASIC (and specifically the marimba focus day of PASIC 2000 in Dallas), a multi-day marimba festival (like the Zeltsman Marimba Festival or the Leigh Howard Stevens Marimba Seminar), and a large international and community involvement project. There were over 25 countries represented including many marimba styles that might not be familiar to all audiences.

This “dream” of Fernando Meza’s took 18 years of conceptualizing and 3 years of intense planning that came together in 4 days of pure marimba enjoyment. Meza, during his remarks to open the festival, is hoping that this “paves the way” for other events like this in the future. He also went on to thank his students and most importantly his family for their support over the years.

It was then time to begin the opening concert entitled “A World of Marimba”. This concert was free and open to the public and had a very packed house. The second level of the Ted Mann Concert Hall had to be opened as the main level was mostly full. This was a great way to open the festival as one of the main ideas was to bring the marimba to the community and not just play for other marimbists which usually happens with other festivals.

The concert began with Bernard Woma performing his own composition “Gyil nyog me na (for gyil solo)”. The gyil is a mallet instrument similar to the Balaphon that has wooden keys on top of gourds that produce a buzzing sound when played. This music is very addicting and makes you want to dance when listening to it. When introducing it Woma said there is a famous saying, “bad dancing will never kill the ground”. The Bernard Woma Ensemble (Bernard Woma and Mark Stone gyile, Kofi Ameyaw, Kuor Drum) then performed “Bagr-bine” which was an improvisational piece with poly-rhythms which also had the same get up and dance feel.

Next up was Toshi Ichiyanagi’s “The Source” performed by Momoko Kamiya (who commissioned and premiered this piece). This piece in two movements uses both 2 mallet and 4 mallet technique and was also played later in the festival at the Classical Marimba League concert. Kamiya then performed my favorite solo of the night, the world premiere of “Blossoms in the Sunlight” by Takatsugu Muramatsu. When I attended the Zeltsman Marimba Festival last year, I was introduced to Muramatsu’s “Land” which is a very popular piece among marimba circles. This new premiere can be thought of Land part 2. It starts with a similar enchanting melody that draws you in with its tenderness. The middle section goes into a faster number of passages that are more challenging than the Land. It then returns to the melody and harmonic variations that brought this marimba enthusiast to tears. For all of the intermediate marimbists who enjoyed “Land” keep an eye out for this fantastic new piece from the same composer. Because it is a world premiere, I don’t believe it is published yet. This was my first time seeing Momoko Kamiya. In addition to the incredible technique and sensitivity, she performs with such an relaxed effortless style that should be emulated by more players. I constantly struggle with tension when I play. Maybe it is time to put up a Momoko Kamiya poster to remind me of how it should be done.

Next was Nebojsa J. Zivkovic with a performance of “Ilijas” one of his compositions and a standard in the marimba repertoire which he played beautifully. He did apologize that his new premiere entitled “Magma” which was in the printed program, was not completed and ready for tonight’s concert.

The final piece before intermission was “The Invisible Men” by Nigel Westlake. This was conducted by Fernando Meza and performed by the University of Minnesota Percussion Ensemble members Adam Rappel, Scotty Horey, Bojan Hoover, Hans Fredrickson, and Joe Millea. The film was shown above the percussion ensemble and they played the audio track for the silent film. This film was a short comedy about a potion that two men steal to become invisible. It featured the marimba in many of the multi-percussion setups and added variety to the concert.

The second half of the concert began with the National Marimba Ensemble from Guatemala (Lester Godinez, Armando Hernandez, Maynor Fuentes, Marvin Cabrera, Geovanni Fuentes, Rolando Mora, Juan Jose Chiriz, Alexander Mora, Mario Fajardo, Juan Antonio Sequen, and Julio Flores) performing “Recuerdos Quetzaltecos”, “En las Cumbres”, and “Fiesta de Pajaros”.  They played 3 players on one marimba with a 4th player on another marimba. The ensemble also included 1 flute, 1 drum, and 1 upright bass. This was another part of the concert that opened up many listeners ears to the other “world of marimba” on authentic Guatemalan marimbas. These impeccably dressed gentlemen truly know the meaning of a ppp marking and showed their great dynamic range.

Katarzyna Mycka then performed Eric Sammut’s arrangement of Astor Piazolla’s “Libertango” followed by Anna Ignatowicz-Glinska’s “Tocatta”. In addition to hearing the new Basso Bravo resonators on the newest Marimba One marimba, Mycka also demonstrated some of the most fluid relaxed playing I have ever seen. I cannot stress how important relaxed playing is to incredible sounding marimba performances (wait did I say that already?).

Eric Sammut took the stage and announced that he would add a few minutes of Puccini variations to the beginning of his “Variations on Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin. Not only were these pieces played seamlessly together, they also highlighted his incredible arranging and performing artistry. These arrangements used music from, according to the program notes,  “Gershwin’s opera but also Gil Evans’ sessions that included Miles Davis”. This was completely unexpected but incredibly effective and audience pleasing.

Nancy Zeltsman took the stage to perform one of her most virtuosic works “Marimbology” by Gunther Schuller. She played the 4th movement “Toccata” with a style that keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting more. She then delivered with “Amulet” by Paul Simon and “Mindwalk” by Lyle Mays. These two pieces are from the “Intermediate Masterworks for Marimba” collection that she commissioned as part of the ZMF New Music project. Amulet is one of my favorites from this collection.

The final part of the concert was performed by Marimba Nandayapa (Zeferino, Javier, and Oscar Nandayapa, Mario Nandayapa Velasco and Mario Nandayapa Gaytan). They performed “Sones Chiapanecos” and Zez Confrey’s “Dedos Agiles (Dizzy Fingers)”. Dizzy fingers was appropriately named as this showed 10 hands on two instruments in a flurry of speed and technique. This Mexican marimba ensemble showed how one family across multiple generations can share their love of music and the marimba with not only their own country but the entire world. It was a pleasure to see another aspect of the marimba’s heritage performed live.

My next post will talk about the Thursday concerts so stay tuned for more from Marimba 2010!