Guillo Espel Cuarteto + Lito Vitale perform “Zamba para escuchar tu silencio”

From my previous post I have stated how much of a fan I am of Guillo Espel’s music.

His quartet recently recorded another version of one of my favorite pieces “zamba para escuchar tu silencio” at the Colon Theatre in Buenos Aires. This version is for quartet and includes a piano part.

It is important for percussionists to listen to all types of music and all types of arrangements to become better musicians. If you are working on the “zamba” solo for marimba be sure to take time to listen to the composer’s quartet playing it. Thanks Guillo for sharing this link and congratulations on your recent concert!


River Flows In You by Yiruma for 100th birthday of Ida Sass

My grandmother Ida Sass is turning 100 this year and we are having a number of celebrations for that great milestone. In one of them, my cousin Jake Froelke and I played an arrangement of Yiruma’s River Flows In You for electric bass and marimba. Here is an excerpt of that piece:

To learn more about this Korean composer please visit his YouTube channel.

You can catch Jake playing in the band “American Feedbag” head over to their web site to catch up with their latest happenings.

Jisu Jung featured as a Young Artist in Residence on Performance Today

Jisu Jung was featured as a Young Artist in Residence on the show “Performance Today“. She performed Bach, Cage, Ewazen’s “Northern Lights”, Muramatsu’s “Land”, and Druckman’s “Reflections on the Nature of Water”.

The recordings and the 3 part interview are all available online at the Performance Today website at:

Jisu Jung, marimba on “Performance Today”

Anytime there is a recording of “Land” I will stop whatever I am doing and listen. This performance was beautifully played and brightened my day. I hope everyone enjoys the performances and the interview.

Zeltsman Marimba Festival 2015 will be at Rutgers University

The 13th season of the Zeltsman Marimba Festival will be held at Rutgers University at the Mason Gross School of the Arts on June 28th – July 11th, 2015. This year’s ZMF will feature the largest ever faculty and guest list including: Pius Cheung, Emmanuel Sejourne, Julie Spencer, Gordon Stout, Mike Truesdell, Jack Van Geem, and Nancy Zeltsman.

Guest composers include Paul Lansky, Daniel Levitan, Steven Mackey, Andrew Thomas, and Ivan Trevino.

One additional option is to attend the “ZMF Weekend” from July 3rd – July 5th. This option is for those who cannot make it for the entire 2-weeks but still want to attend the 3 evening concerts and 10 talks/masterclasses. You cannot beat this incredible price for what you are getting for this weekend of fantastic marimba performances.

Registration opens on February 1, 2015 so start planning for a great summer in New Jersey now!

New Marimba Music Survey 2014 published by Mark Ford

Mark Ford has asked 150 marimbists to list 1 to 4 marimba solos that were published in the last 10 years that represent the “new wave” of marimba literature. The results of that survey are at:

What I found really telling about this list is that I only knew about 1/2 of the solos. Our generation of marimbists will probably be remembered more for how we furthered the repretoire instead of our playing but I am sure that topic is up for debate. Thanks Mark for putting this together and enjoy the list!

(updated 4/19/2015 – updated link to survey)

International Percussion Competition Luxembourg February 2015

The International Percussion Competition Luxembourg will occur February 14-22, 2015. For more information head over to their Facebook page, and the IPCL 2015 flyer.

The event features a quartet competition so look for 3 other percussionists and start practicing! The registration deadline is October 1, 2014. Keep visiting their page for more up to date information as the deadline arrives.

Marimba One Izzy

Marimba One has launched a new marimba called the Izzy.  Their press release states the following:

The culmination of 30 years of acoustic research, engineering and craftsmanship, this is simply the finest marimba ever built.  Sound innovations which have also been integrated in all marimba one©marimbas include resonator harmonic filters for a smoother, more balanced sound, updated resonator tuning to maximize sound potential, and voicing options on both our resonators and keyboards.

The complete re-design of our frames ranges from combination aluminum and wood rails with laser engraving to the incredibly durable frame hardware. Our ultra-smooth pneumatic height adjustment system is functional and durable–never slips, easy to use.  We only use US-grade certified hardware on our marimbas which are 100% made in Arcata, California, USA.

The marimba one Izzy™ is named after Izzy Samuels, son of marimba one© founder Ron Samuels.

I was able to play on one of the Izzy models at the Zeltsman Marimba Festival this summer. I really like what they have done to the frame to make it more sturdy. This is the choice that I would make if I were in a school or somewhere where you are moving the marimba between rooms. It has a darker “black” look on the rails which is a combination of aluminum and wood and therefore saves you a little money compared with the 3000 series Height Adjustable choice. The soloist and 3000 series continue to have the tuning nobs while the new Izzy does not.

You can choose this option by visiting the marimba one “build your dream marimba” link at:



“To the shadow, light” (world premiere)

One of my goals as a marimbist is to foster the creation of new marimba pieces whenever I can. There have been many great projects on Kickstarter that I have been a part of over the years but I have always wanted to do a commission by myself. For the past two years I have been working on just that. This is the story of the marimba solo “To the shadow, light” by Guillo Espel.

Back in 2009 I attended the Zeltsman Marimba Festival. During one of the listening sessions William Moersch played a marimba solo called “Zamba para escuchar tu silencio” by Guillo Espel. I thought that this was one of the most beautiful marimba solos I have ever heard (similar to the first time I heard “Land” by Takatsugu Muramatsu).

I heard this solo performed live by Angel Frette at the Marimba 2010 International Festival and Conference and knew that I had to find out who the composer was. A quick search led me to Guillo and we begin emailing about the solo, the quartet arrangement, and about his other pieces.

I didn’t have the marimba chops to perform “Zamba” myself, so I asked Jenny Klukken if she wanted to perform it. She has played it a number of times and a wonderful recording was posted on my blog in 2012.

I knew I had found a great composer, and so I asked Guillo if he would be willing to commission a new piece. Even though he is a guitarist, I knew from his previous marimba solo that he knew how to write for the marimba and make it sound beautiful. He agreed, and to my surprise, finished the piece in a couple of months. Both Jenny and I started working on “To the shadow, light” and continued to email with Guillo with updates and questions.

It was late in 2013 when I saw the announcement for ZMF 2014 and I knew that this would be the perfect place for the world premiere. Sometimes you just need a hard deadline to really focus and complete a task.

At the Zeltsman Marimba Festival, I was given invaluable advice by Nanae Mimura, Jack Van Geem, Laurent Warnier, and Nancy Zeltsman. I performed the world premiere at the 5-hour marathon concert on Saturday July 12, 2014 at Memorial Chapel on the Lawrence University campus. The program notes are located here, and the recording is below:


I wanted to personally thank all of the ZMF faculty from 2009 and 2014 and especially William Moersch for introducing me to Guillo’s music. Another big thank you to Guillo for taking the time to write a new marimba piece. If anyone is interested in performing “To the shadow, light” please contact me via email –  marimba [at] jeffsass [dot] com.