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Lancaster Marimba Ensemble

The Lancaster Marimba Ensemble continues the rich tradition of marimba performance in Lancaster County and Pennsylvania. Formed in 1991 by Dr. Daniel Heslink and Mr. Dale Ginder and initially comprising nine members, the Ensemble now consists of five core performers:  Dan Heslink of Lancaster, Jim Martin of Strasburg, Colin McCaskey of Lancaster, Stephanie Smith of Manheim and Jolyn Wolfe of Ephrata.  Each member of the Ensemble has studied under the direction of Dr. Heslink either independently or through Millersville University’s Music Department.

The group performs a huge variety of musical selections ranging in style from Opera to Vaudeville and Broadway to Spiritual. The traditional styles of the world’s people, especially Mexican, Andean and African music, are combined with European classics and American jazz. Also popular are the Lancaster Marimba Ensemble’s unique adaptations of spiritual music. The result is a ground breaking chamber music, both exciting and intimate, that opens new musical worlds to its audiences.

This variety allows the ensemble to showcase the true versatility of the marimba as an instrument as well as to perform at a wide range of functions including arts festivals, worship services, weddings, banquets, special entertainment, concert series, outdoor events, picnics and more.  A well-received feature of performances at all venues is insightful commentary and interaction with the audience.

Performances of the Lancaster Marimba Ensemble are enhanced by a significant collection of fine percussion instruments and outstanding music library. Generally, the instruments used for performances are three hand-crafted, 5 octave marimbas manufactured by Marimba One, one 4 octave marimba manufactured by the JenCo company, a xylophone manufactured by the Deagan company, and one 4 octave marimba manufactured by the Musser company.

Audiences will notice that musicians may not necessarily perform on the same instrument throughout the entire performance.  Each player may be assigned a part that is written for a specific range of the instrument and so then needs to play on one of the larger instruments or switch with another player to be sure all parts are covered appropriately.  

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Click below to enjoy a recording of the Lancaster Marimba Ensemble on YouTube.

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This can be interesting to experience, not only as an audience member but also as a player, for the physical relationship between the performer and her instrument is of extreme importance. The instruments are struck with mallets wrapped with various colors, weights and hardness of yarn or cord, or made of rubber, plastic or wood. The judicious application of varied striking implements creates different timbres and allows for creative expression and interpretation of the music based on the style and period of the composition or the performer’s individual taste. 

The most fundamental task is to create a stroke that elicits beauty and warmth, and technically free so that musician may play expressively deep. All of this contributes to a dynamic and purely enjoyable concert experience!


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