Marimba specialist in the Bay

Gillian McAinsh

A VIRTUOUSO musician who studied in Japan will be tapping the marimba this weekend in Port Elizabeth as part of the Hospice Last Night of the Proms.

Johannesburg-based percussionist and marimba specialist Magda de Vries fell in love with the African instrument the first day she played it.

“The marimba has such a warm and soothing sound,” she said.

“I started lessons in percussion at the age of 15 and little did I know what a wide and exciting field of instruments this is!

“Basically everything that can be hit or struck is regarded as a percussion instrument, and the marimba forms part of the melodic section of the percussion family.”

De Vries won a scholarship that made her the first foreign student at the Tokyo College of Music under Professor Atsushi Sugahara.

While in Japan, she was invited to join Percussion Museum (a Tokyo percussion ensemble), made her solo recital debut, received a Tokyo College of Music study grant and obtained a post-graduate diploma cum laude.

This weekend she will perform with soloist Friedel Mitas, a massed choir and the full East Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in two concerts to be held at the Feather Market Centre on May 19 and 20. The concerts, which will also feature bagpipers and Irish dancers will raise funds for St Francis Hospice which provides home-based palliative care to patients and their families.

Not only does the 3m-long marimba dwarf the petite De Vries on stage, due to its size she cannot fly with it to concert venues.

“On a very practical level, it is challenging to get it from point A to point B, so I will be driving down from Johannesburg with the marimba loaded in my car and Venter trailer.

“On a musical level, it is very challenging to express and communicate your music to the audience,” said De Vries.

“In my case, I am a fairly small person, and the marimba is almost 3m long so there is a lot of movement which forms part of the performance, and many people have likened that to dancing. The sound also mesmerises audiences!”

Further information from Melanie Manson, (041) 360-7070.

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