On Saturday, December 2, Asheville’s Village Marimba School will perform a World Music Concert with the Warren Wilson College Gamelan Ensemble. The concert will take place at the Rainbow Community Center at 7 p.m. and will include a special performance from an all-female band called the Marimba Mamas. Village Marimba is a program of Asheville Rhythm, an organization that seeks to promote wellness through rhythm and bridges musical traditions through innovative collaborations.
The date of the concert made perfect timing for a partnership with the Gamelan Ensemble, as their fall concert is two days prior to the World Music Concert. “It is always great to have more chances for my students to show off the hard work that they have put into learning and performing this music,” says Kevin Kehrberg, director of the Gamelan Ensemble. He adds that the concert will offer “a great cross-cultural experience to unfamiliar listeners.”
Sue Ford, director of Village Marimba School, was first introduced to Zimbabwean-style marimba music by her brother in 1993. Ford, her brother and her husband built marimbas for their family band which performed between 1997 and 1999. Ford used these instruments, along with several donated instruments, to start the marimba band program at Evergreen Community Charter School: Evergreen’s Multicultural Beat Ensemble (EMBE). “After teaching more than 200 students for 12 years, I decided that I had enough experience to start my own marimba school,” Ford says. She founded Village Marimba School in the fall of 2016 with support from Asheville Rhythm and River Guerguerian.
The World Music Concert is the culmination of the school’s 10-week session. Admission will be on a donation basis and funds will be used to purchase a new marimba, improve existing instruments and provide scholarships for Village Marimba students. Ford hopes that “the audience will feel uplifted and inspired by the joyous polyrhythms of marimba band and gamelan,” she says. “When communities of people come together to create music, the sum is greater than its parts.”
The Rainbow Community Center is located at 60 State Street in Asheville. For more information about Village Marimba, visit ashevillepercussionfestival.com/village-marimba. For more information about the Gamelan Ensemble, contact Kevin Kehrberg at email@example.com.