Leigh Howard Stevens, hailed by Time magazine as "the world's greatest classical marimbist," will give a free concert on Wednesday, February 9, at Ithaca College.
The performance will begin at 8:15 p.m. in the Hockett Family Recital Hall in the James J. Whalen Center for Music. Stevens's program will include transcriptions of works by J. S. Bach and Tschaikovsky, along with original music composed both by Stevens and Gordon Stout, an Ithaca College School of Music faculty member who is also a renowned marimbist and composer.
Stevens is coming to campus thanks to a grant from the Robert G. Boehmler Community Foundation. Boehmler, who received a bachelor's degree from the School of Music in 1938 and a master's degree in 1961, was a musician and educator who established this foundation to support education in the communities in which he lived. A music teacher in the Palmyra-Macedon (New York) School District for many years, Boehmler died in 1998.
Stevens has made a personal commitment to do for the marimba what Segovia did for the guitar by elevating the ancient melodic instrument from its folk origins to the concert stage. Since the 1970s, Stevens has performed hundreds of solo recitals and appeared with numerous symphony orchestras in 48 states and 10 foreign countries. He recently introduced the marimba to a live television audience of 800 million viewers in the People's Republic of China. His celebrated musicianship, imaginative programming, and exciting visual performances have inspired critical acclaim and standing ovations wherever he tours.
Stevens performs on an eight-foot Malletch Marimba of his own design. He has had a huge influence over every aspect of marimba playing and making, including the way the mallets are held, the length and material of the mallet handles and heads, and the frame and resonators of the instrument. His method of holding two mallets in each hand has become the norm among modern marimbists.
Contributed by Erik Kibelsbeck