Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Marimba Sol De Chiapas in Oakley

 For more than 35 years, Marimba Sol de Chiapas is the evolution of the group started by Dr. Laurence Kaptain as Marimba Yajalón--the first professional folkloric music ensemble of its kind permanently-based within the United States and calling Kansas City home since 1991.

The ensemble will appear Sunday, March 24 at 3 p.m. CDT at the Oakley High School Auditorium. The group will then provide two school programs in Oakley on Monday, March 25. 

Western Plains Arts Association has received a grant from Mid-America Arts Alliance Regional Touring Program. This project is generously funded by Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The Dane G. Hansen Foundation also makes this and other season programs possible.

Admission is by WPAA season ticket or adults $20 and students $10.

Committed to the authentic performance practice and spirit of the marimba heard throughout Mesoamerica, Marimba Sol de Chiapas (which translates as The Chiapan Sun Marimba Group) maintains an active schedule of performances, recordings, and multi-cultural workshops.

Sol is a Mid-America Arts Alliance-approved Touring Performer with ensemble highlights ranging from a feature on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and a cameo appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, to performing at the art world’s premier event of the Americas—Art Basel Miami. From performances at three International Festivals of the Marimba and events hosted by the Mexican Consul of New Orleans celebrating the Bicentennial of Mexico’s independence from Spain and Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, to several compact disc recordings. So authentic is their interpretation and approach that the ensemble has often toured Mexico as guests of the Mexican government.

Much more than a musical instrument, the marimba in Mexico is a cultural symbol woven into the fabric of everyday life in the state of Chiapas. It is indeed difficult to walk down any street within the state without hearing las maderas que cantan or what Chiapans affectionately call "the wood that sings." Chiapas is one of Mexico's most isolated and exotic states, which only adds resonance to the combination of reality and legend that surrounds the marimba, its music, and the people who play the instrument.

At first glance, a United States audience sees what they think is a sort of xylophone--and they are right. The marimba is a type of xylophone. There are two most obvious differences--aside from instrument materials, construction and appearance--between the Mexican marimba tradition and the "concert marimba" tradition that most North Americans are familiar with. The first is that the Mexican tradition most always has several musicians performing on a single instrument, whereas the concert tradition typically involves a single solo performer. The second difference is the very distinctive "buzz" that is an integral part of the sound of the Mexican instrument, and that is lacking on the concert version of the marimba.

Eclectic is perhaps the best term with which one would describe the repertoire of the marimba in Mexico. The music for Catholic masses and weddings, Mexican pop favorites, Latin jazz, and Classical are all considered fair game. 

Visit mexicanmarimba.com for addition information or visit on Marimba Sol de Chiapas on Facebook. YouTube features several videos.

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