Bach Fest audience put in musical trance

Camille Doty

June 7, 2012 at 1:07 a.m.

"It was really cool," says Inara Ballard, 6, as she gets Thomas Burritt's signature, after  his marimba performance at The Golden Gecko.

"It was really cool," says Inara Ballard, 6, as she gets Thomas Burritt's signature, after his marimba performance at The Golden Gecko.   Todd Krainin for The Victoria Advocate

Marimbist Thomas Burritt held the crowd's attention like a performer at a magic show. His eyes remained closed most of the concert.

The Golden Gecko on Thursday was filled with people nodding their heads, closing their eyes to daydream and tapping to the beat.

The 40-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., native used his mallets and percussion instrument to connect his audience on a heightened level.

"Playing music is ultimately about communicating. It does something that words can't quite express," he said.

Burritt's choice of music during the "Mallets and Melodies" show reflected his feelings.

The marimbist thought about his father, who has been too ill to see him perform.

His notes were low and solemn and, suddenly, he picked up the tempo.

He said, "I know in the end it's going to be OK."

The audience rode the emotional rollercoaster with him.

"I want this very much to be an interactive experience," he said.

The father of three encouraged the crowd to relax, eat and tweet during the show.

For the past 37 years, Victoria Bach Festival organizers have invited acclaimed musicians for the community to indulge in various styles of music.

Each day they've held two concerts to showcase a variety of stages to perform orchestral, choral and chamber work.

Burritt will be featured in various shows during the festival. The Austin-based musician keeps coming back to Victoria.

"He brings a special spirit to our concerts," said Nina Di Leo, the festival's executive director.

Burritt used his platform to teach music enthusiasts of all ages.

"How many days did you practice that one song?" a child asked.

"It was actually six or seven. But sometimes it's about that one big thing," he said.

Inara Ballard may not remember all the notes Burritt played Thursday afternoon, but she enjoyed watching the musical sculptor form his masterpiece.

"It was really cool. I liked his face when he had the movements," said Inara, while emulating some of his expressions.

The 6-year-old fan asked Burritt for an autograph after the show.

Gloria Ballard, Inara's mother, took pleasure in Burritt's melodic voice.

"It sounded like chanting, it was so peaceful," she said.

The mother/daughter duo attended all the noon concerts together for the first time this year.

Ballard once played in the Victoria High School band. She wants to pass down her love for music by teaching her daughter how to play instruments.

"We'll probably play the xylophone a lot when we get home," Ballard said.



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