Week-long Festival Honoring Marrs in Costa Rica
During the last week of May 2014, I had the amazing and thrilling opportunity to be honored by my former students from my years performing with the Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra and teaching in its Youth Program in San José, Costa Rica. The week-long festival was organized by Bismarck Fernández, the youngest of those former students who began studying with me at six years of age and is now the timpanist in the Costa Rica National Symphony Orchestra, head of the Percussion area in the Instituto Nacional de Música, and Director of the Ensemble de Percusión Costa Rica in residence at the Universidad Estatal a Distancia. He also arranged to bring back to Costa Rica for the occasion, two of my other students from that period who went on to professional careers outside of Costa Rica: Fernando Meza, Head of the Percussion Department at the University of Minnesota; and Sergio Quesada, Timpanist in the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México in Toluca. Also joining in the week of clinics, master classes, and a concert, was famed conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, who was a student of Fernando Meza when he was teaching in Costa Rica after my return to the United States, which makes him a kind of musical “grandchild”! In addition, Ricardo Alvarado, another second generation product of the percussion teaching lineage begun with my 11-year tenure in that highly cultured country, performed with our group for the Karel Husa, “Concerto for Percussion and Wind Ensemble.” This concert was played to a sold-out crowd at the iconic National Theatre of Costa Rica (pictured above). I was surprised and moved by a short speech delivered by Fernando Meza to the audience about the meaning of this celebratory week, and how the musical seeds I sowed over 40 years ago have grown into a strong “school” of percussion artistry and what this has meant for the country.
Here is an article I published in 1999 in Percussive Notes about percussion in during the “Musical Revolution” in Costa Rica: 1972-82.