Marrs Gives Clinics and Concerts in Costa Rica

Dr. Stuart Marrs
Concerts, Clinics and Master Classes in Costa Rica
May 29-June 13, 2004

During the first two weeks of June, 2004, I gave a series of clinics and master classes in San José, Heredia, and San Pedro, Costa Rica. During the same period, together with violinist Jan Dobrzelewski and his trumpet player son, Dr. Jean-Christophe Dobrzelewski, I performed in several concerts. The concerts featured works for the second in the series of our CDs, Percussion Continents II.

Two clinics were at the Instituto Nacional de Música, (formerly known as the Programa Juvenil) M.M. Jorge Luis Duarte Jiménez, Director, which falls under the auspices of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, Dr. Dimas Madriz Díaz, Director. The percussion teacher is Lic. Bismarck Fernández, timpanist in the Costa Rica National Symphony Orchestra and former student of mine when I taught at this same institute in the 1970s. The students performed at a US college level with respect to repertoire and technical development. They all approached our art form with the degree of serious professionalism it merits.

Group photo

I gave another clinic/master class at the National University of Costa Rica in Heredia (UNA). I taught at the UNA during my time in Costa Rica and the current UNA percussion teacher, Lic. Carlos Saavedra Reyes, was the first graduate in percussion from the program. Lic. Saavedra now runs an interesting program that expands the percussion curriculum to include Latin percussion,(an area in which he specializes and has published), as well as traditional western orchestral techniques.

Clinic UNA

The Academia Bach, Julio Cordero, Director, invited me to give a clinic at the academy in San Pedro. A wide variety of participants ranging from non-percussionists to students with a high level of percussion training attended. The teacher, Freddy Meléndez, had everything set and ready to go and we had a fine session.

Clinic Bach

Percussion Continents II, (as we call the concert series) gave three presentations, in three different provinces of the country. The concerts were made possible thanks to support from the Ministry of Culture, the National Theater, and the Fundación Ars Música. Many thanks to don Guido Sáenz, the Minister of Culture of Costa Rica for his dedication to musical life in Costa Rica.  See my article from Percussive Notes: Percussion in Costa Rica: 1972-82 (PDF).

Group Lunch
Left to right: Guido Sáenz, Stuart Marrs, Jean-Christophe Dobrzelewski, Jan Dobrzelewski, Dimas Madriz, Bismarck Fernández.

Since the program consisted of new music, including several world premieres, each concert included an explanation of how to listen to the music. The audiences were fabulous, demanding multiple curtain calls at the end of each concert. The three venues were:

National Theatre of Costa Rica in San José – a wonderful “jewel” of late 19th century architecture. Daniel Adams, American composer whose work, Among the Echoing Presences, we premiered on the concert, made the trip from his home in Texas and we took advantage of his presence to conduct on the first performance.

Teatro Nacional

The next concert was at the National University in Heredia. The UNA has just completed a new modern complex in Barreal de Heredia and we performed in the Centro Nacional de Políticas Económicas – great acoustics! We were honored as Sonia Marta Mora Escalante, the Rectora (president) of the university had changed her travel plans to be able to attend our concert. Since Jan and I had both been members of the faculty there, we were given beautifully presented certificates of gratitude, by Dr. Juan Israel Carrillo Santa Cruz, director of the School of Music. We owe many thanks to M.M. Carmen Méndez, Event Coordinator, and Rosario Vargas for helping to set up the concert and to the rest of the staff at the UNA who made the concert possible.

The last concert was in the Escuela de Música de la Municipalidad de Cartago. The actual performance space was in the beautiful Salón Municipal where the provincial councilmen hold their legislative sessions. The room is exquisitely finished in dark Costa Rican wood and is thankfully blessed with excellent acoustics. Our host, Lic. Fedérico Molina, director of the school and Susan Campos, the orchestra director for the school, offered wonderful hospitality, the concert went smoothly, and was enthusiastically received.


Our plan is to record these new works in the not too distant future. You can look for the Percussion Continents II CD by the end of 2005.

I would like to thank the fine people at the following percussion manufacturing companies for their support in these important international educational endeavors.