Percussion Rochester Festival


Downtown Rochester has done it again! And so have the Eastman School of Music and Kodak Hall and the many sponsors of these musical events.

Last Friday afternoon, I went to the Miller Atrium (formerly Eastman Place, right across Gibbs Street from the Eastman Theatre) to watch and hear the RPO Marimba Band perform.  Oh, the joy!!

There were a xylophone, several marimbas ranging in size from about six feet to 12 feet long, a set of vibraphones, a drum set (base, snares, tom toms) and a steel drum. The range of sounds from all these percussion musical instruments was phenomenal. Mellow, staccato, vibrant, brassy, clear, precise.

The repertory of pieces played was across the board, from “Nola” to a hauntingly beautiful classical salute to a now deceased artist. (Sorry, I don’t have the program here and I can’t remember the name or the artist. Darn!)

But hearing “Nola” on the xylophone (with marimbas in the background) took me back to my childhood. Growing up, we had in our family room sets of marimbas and drums and an old upright piano. My Dad had played during the depression in some bands around Auburn, Syracuse and even up in Toronto and he brought that music to our home every day. Often neighbors would congregate in our home while Dad played the marimbas, my brother Joe was on the drums and I or my sister, Teash, accompanied on the piano. Our very own jam sessions. They were wonderful. And so are the memories.

The RPO Marimba Band brought joy on so many levels. Their excellence is one of our many cultural blessings.

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