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Mallets and Melodies: Crowd pleaser at the Bach Festival

Camille Doty

By Camille m. doty - CDOTY@VICAD.COM
June 7, 2011 at 1:07 a.m.

Marimbist Tom Burritt performs at the Golden Gecko on Tuesday, the first in a series of free concerts offered to the public during the Bach Festival.

Ten-year-old Emery Rose Flores already appreciates classical music.

On Tuesday, she had to chance to indulge her tuneful appetite at the Victoria Bach Festival's inaugural performance.

"It was soothing," she said. Emery said the Mallets and Melodies concert helped to relieve her headache.

The aspiring musician learned about classical music when she participated in the University Interscholastic League's Music Memory contest last year. Her big, brown eyes lit up when she talked about Beethoven, Mozart and Bach.

But the afternoon concert allowed her mother, Teri Flores, a chance to see inside her musical world.

"She knows more about this than I do," Flores admitted

The mother of two also said it was imperative for her to bring daughters, Emery Rose and Elina Iris, because they couldn't make last year's activities.

The free concert gave mother and daughters a chance to artistically bond. Emery was so thrilled to meet Thomas Burritt that she rushed to be the first to get his autograph.

Burritt, who plays the marimba, was grateful to meet the little recorder player.

He said young people help to keep music going.

"A key to keeping music alive is to make music accessible to the public."

People of all ages came to appreciate the sound of the marimba. Some admirers even sat on the staircase to listen to the smooth sounds. The Golden Gecko's cozy atmosphere and dim-lighting matched the musical mood.

Burritt was truly a showman, explaining each piece, interacting with the audience and even playing an encore.

Some of his contemporary show pieces included "Tipped Scales," by Paul Lansky, and "Groundlines," by John Serry.

He performed a duet with one his doctoral students, Matt Teodori. The professor described the joint piece, "The Book of Keys," as crazy virtuosic.

He thanked his pupil for the courage to learn the complicated selection with him.

JoAnn Hankel was so enthralled with that high-energy performance, she beat her hands to an invisible marimba.

"I liked how they fed off each other," she said of the duo. She also said she liked when the two men play opposite one another as if they were dueling.

Burritt thanked his audience for allowing him to try newer works.

"I'm so glad you're here as I open up. I feel like you're right here with me."

Eager Emery said she really enjoyed herself.

"What a great way to start a summer vacation," she said.

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