"The festival showcases nine world class marimba virtuosos from countries as far reaching as Japan, Croatia, Belgium and Taiwan."
The mellifluous sounds of marimbas will ring through the air, June 6 - 9, as the Santa Fe Marimba Festival hits the town. The festival showcases nine world class marimba virtuosos from countries as far reaching as Japan, Croatia, Belgium and Taiwan. The four-day event also showcases a wealth of marimba talent found throughout Santa Fe and greater New Mexico, with local performances displaying the sounds of Zimbabwe, Mexico and Guatemala. Concerts take place in the Lensic, St. Francis Auditorium, Santa Fe Plaza gazebo and throughout the streets of Downtown Santa Fe.
The festival also includes three days of workshops and master classes at the New Mexico School for the Arts. Marimba street performers will appear frequently and spontaneously throughout the Plaza, San Francisco Street, Burro Alley and various other locales. The event also includes free community activities, including a kids and family workshop at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 9.
The festival kicks off June 7 at the St. Francis Auditorium with "Marimba Roots – Africa to Latin America." The evening begins with African drumming and dancing with Elise Gent and her dance troupe from the Railyard Performance Center, accompanied by the African percussion of Fred Simpson and D’Jeune. Valerie Naranjo, whose résumé includes percussion work with Saturday Night Live and Broadway’s The Lion King, is scheduled to perform a set on the African gyil entitled "Traditions of Ghana." Naranjo's husband, Barry Olsen will provide accompaniment on percussion and piano. Local Zimbabwean marimba band, Polyphony Marimba, will perform music from their native country and North Carolina's Ken Morehead, accompanied by local percussionists Jeff Sussman and Dave Tolen, will perform music from Uganda in a set entitled "The Bald Man." The evening closes with music from Central and South America by Albuquerque-based marimbists Steve Chavez and John Bartlit performing “Marimbas of the World” and a Gordon Stout performance titled “Three Mexican Dances.”
June 8 continues with a full day of master workshops, followed by a headlining set by Latin jazz marimba and vibraphone extraordinaire Victor Mendoza. The inimitable musician and composer will be joined by the Bert Dalton Trio and guest percussionist Dane Richeson. It is also rumored that Victor’s dad, legendary local guitarist Antonio Mendoza, might join his famous son on stage for a musical homecoming tune or two. Performance begin at 8 p.m. at the Lensic and also include opening sets entitled "Three Choros," "Croatian Folk Songs" and "Libertango."
At 12:30 p.m., June 9, the festival offers a free and public concert at the St. Francis Auditorium titled "Wood that Sings." This family-friendly event features performances by the Kid’s Zimbabwean Marimba Band, Valerie Naranjo, Gareth Farr, Tracy and James Doyle, Sam Lunt and more.
"From the Silk Road to Bach" is the title of the festival's June 9 evening concert. The show features a host international marimba stars performing a variety of works, ranging from transcriptions of classical compositions (Bach for the marimba instead of harpsichord) to original compositions, including "Silk Road I & II" by Taiwanese virtuoso Chin Cheng Lin and "The Odyssey, According to Penelope" by Indiana University composer and performer Kevin Bobo. The Saturday program also includes Ivana Bilic from Croatia, Nanae Mimura from Japan and Pius Cheung from China.
If all of this is not enough, look for a plethora of street marimba buskers on the streets of Santa Fe – they might be solo marimba players, a marimba ensemble or percussionists and marimbas combined.