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.

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