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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rosewood Marimba stage a comeback

    Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
    Valentina Martinelli
    Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

    After being absent for a decade, the UA’s Rosewood Marimba band is quite the experience. It isn’t every day a nationally recognized ragtime marimba ensemble plays at your school. These guys are rock stars in every sense of the word. Except instead of wailing on guitars, this quintet rocks out on xylophones and marimbas.

    The Friday concert in Crowder Hall was a one-of-a-kind experience. This kind of concert just isn’t seen by our generation, which is a shame. The blend of impromptu solos, with background harmonies and melodies, was one of the most soothing, upbeat and enjoyable sounds I’ve ever witnessed, which is the essence of ragtime.

    Ragtime is a style of music originating back to the 1920s and ‘30s during the Great Depression. It served as an alternative to the dismal times with its upbeat, toe-tapping numbers that could bring a smile to most everyone’s face. And during the concert, that’s exactly what this ensemble did.

    But just because it’s music from the ’20s and ’30s doesn’t mean the tunes are completely unknown to a younger audience. “”Over the Rainbow,”” written by Harold Arlen and arranged by David P. Eyler, was used to close out the first set. As the most soothing piece of music the band played all night, this song was also the best executed. The tight harmonies that rang in the background complemented the soulful melody to the utmost extent.

    Another recognizable tune was “”Spanish Waltz,”” written by G.H. Green and arranged by Bob Becker, which, at first glance, may not seem familiar, but once the group broke into the chorus, the audience began singing along. It’s the old “”Frito Bandito”” jingle, and, more recently, comedian Jeff Dunham used it in one of his routines. Kyle Maxwell-Doherty, a second-year graduate student in percussion performance and the man responsible for bringing the Rosewood Marimba band back to the UA, was the featured soloist. Although the song was played with lightning-fast speed, he made it look simple as he blitzed up and down the xylophone, playing the melody while throwing in his own personal touches.

    “”Galloping Comedians,”” the final song played, offered something the rest of the concert didn’t. While Mark Cook, who is currently pursuing a Masters degree in percussion performance, played the melody, Maxwell-Doherty commandeered the bells, whistles and horns, adding the comedic touch. Anyone who watched Saturday morning Looney Tunes would recognize the song, especially from the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote segments. These two, along with Stephen Tipping, a music performance gradute student, Amy Contevita, a percussion performance senior, and Chris Habeeb-Louks, a School of Music alumnus, teamed up to produce a wonderful concert.

    These, along with the other nine songs played, were performed beautifully. Other less recognizable songs included “”The Hummingbird,”” written by George Hamilton Green and arranged by Bob Becker, which featured Contevita as the soloist. Her entrancing performance was a treat to witness, and it showed her true skill as a musician. 

    The UA community should feel very lucky to have the Rosewood Marimba band back on campus. They offer an enjoyable alternative to the common concert, and will hopefully stick around for many years.

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