The Marvelous Marimba
Smile for a Saturday
It’s been a horrific week of news.
When we looked for inspiration for our Smile for a Saturday, we wanted to find a way to push back, in some small sense, against the culture of violence that puts our children in peril.
Our young ones so often can be the antidotes to our despair. In their innocence, energy, hope, curiosity, and kindness we can find reasons to believe that the future may be better than the present or the past.
We wanted to celebrate that spirit here today, and we found a musical performance that we hope will do just that. It comes from South Africa and features girls from the Goede Hoop Primary School playing the marimba.
This percussive instrument, which is a type of xylophone, originated in Africa. It has since spread across the world and is especially popular in Central America (it is Guatemala's national instrument). It was introduced by enslaved people in the 16th century, and the marimba’s history is a timely reminder that music often accompanies suffering. It has been a way for humans of all cultures to find comfort for pain and hope amid distress.
In the performance we share with you today, however, you will see only joy. The girls, playing with unabashed confidence, strike their notes with power and grace. They bring new life to an old classical stalwart from Vivaldi, transforming the familiar into new and wonderful dimensions.
In their faces and their artistry we found abundant reasons to smile. At the same time, we recognize the tears that came as we reflected on the injustices and cruelty of our world and how we too often fail our children.
For those of you who may want more of the Goede Hoop Marimba Band, here you go:
And for anyone who wants to marvel at the marimba and the vibraphone (which is a type of metal marimba), here’s a piece by the French composer and percussionist Emmanuel Séjourné, as performed by Christoph Sietzen. You’ll never think of the xylophone the same way again.