On Tuesday, February 16, Carol Hall was graced with the beautiful music of marimba virtuoso Matthew Coley. Coley is the artistic director for the Heartland Marimba Festival, and served as the Percussion Faculty in the Department of Music and Theatre at Iowa State University. Now a full time performer, he has done performances all over the world including Canada, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary as well as many places in the United States. He is also a gifted composer and commissioned several pieces during his time at Iowa State. Coley has released two critically acclaimed albums and has performed at Percussive Arts Society International Conventions all across the world, making him an internationally renowned artist.
Matthew Coley began his program on Tuesday with a piece he wrote called Seasons May Change; I. Winter to Spring which set the mood of the concert with an ethereal and hypnotic vibe, felt through the reverberation of Carol Hall. The next piece, he explained, would imitate the effect of a piano playing underwater, as the marimba tends to have an aquatic effect. The piece took me through the stages of water; from droplets all the way to a rushing stream. I was mesmerized.
Throughout the rest of the program, Coley demonstrated amazing technique and musicality in all seven pieces he played. Among these was a great marimba arrangement of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (the classic vampire theme for those less musically savvy), where he masterfully retained the essence of the original piece while including intriguing marimba quirks. Coley also played the very famous Habanera from Carmen arranged for marimba and did an excellent job including the Latin flair and dramatic approach to the piece.
My favorite aspect of his playing were his endings. At the end of each piece, he would include a dramatic flair that made the piece resonate even more with the audience and the room. His performance level was extremely professional and I feel lucky to have seen him play.
It truly is a treat to be able to have a performer of this level at our university, but, unfortunately, the only audience members at the concert were music students, with most offered extra credit to attend. Although I don’t believe the blame falls on anyone specifically, there needs to be more information on musical events advertised around campus. If more people attended the concerts put on by the Music Department and the shows produced by the Theatre Department, students would feel more inspired towards greatness. We should all, as colleagues and friends alike, support each other more frequently in our creative endeavors.
Find out more about percussionist Matthew Coley here.
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