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.