Marimba Festival Making a Difference in Appleton

APPLETON – A festival full of music is bringing together people from across the globe.

The marimba is part of the percussion family. It’s made up of wooden bars and is hit with mallets and is just one instrument Making a Difference in Appleton.

The 2014 Zeltsman Marimba Festival is a two-week event held in Appleton.  The festival brings together faculty, like long time marimbist Jack Van Geem.

“The marimba was my first instrument,” Van Geem said. “I began when I was 4 years old and I ended up playing as principal percussionist in San Francisco Symphony for 32 years, but my passion was always the marimba.”

The festival brings together not only faculty, but participants like Ben Pitt, who came all the way from San Francisco to learn from some of the best.

“Everybody is here for a similar reason,” Pitt said. “We all have a similar passion for the marimba as a solo instrument, but also as an instrument where we can expand the repertoire and expand people’s knowledge of what the instrument is through adaptation and arraignments of maybe some popular songs that people might be aware of.”

The festival is jam-packed with private classes and public concerts all focused on this one instrument. For many, this festival can be life-changing.

“Having music in my life – especially having marimba in my life – is something that allows me to challenge myself and challenge myself to not only expose, you know, the instrument to people who might not know what the marimba is, but to also challenge myself to do things that are outside of my comfort zone,” said Pitt.

An instrument that allows people to express their feelings without words.

“It’s an amazing experience to see a part of yourself expressed through this beast of an instrument that you don’t even touch – you club it with these sticks that you hold and yet It touches some place deep,” said Van Geem.

All centered around this powerful instrument which Van Geem hopes will be around for years to come.

“It’s also an opportunity to touch other people’s lives and there’s a heritage to be passed on. I always feel like I’ve benefited from a lot of other people’s teaching and it’s become my responsibility to pass that on to someone else,” he said. “If there wasn’t someone there to pass it to that would be pretty sad.”

There are still two concerts that are open to the public. There are shows on Friday and Saturday.

Click here to see what time the concerts are and how to get tickets.

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