Maru-a-Pula Marimba Band Visits
by Nicholas Taborsky on Friday, May 13th, 2016
Nicholas Taborsky ‘19
If someone were to ask me to describe happiness in a few words, I believe that the response “Maru-a-Pula Marimba Band” would be more than fitting.
During 2nd period on Monday, May 2nd, I sat in the back of King Theater, anxiously awaiting the marimba band from the Maru-a-Pula school in Botswana to perform. I was excited for their show after hearing endless praise from friends who had already had the chance to see the group in action. So, after the band’s tour manager came out on stage and said a few words about the band, I was more than ready for the show to begin. Eleven musicians took the stage and shuffled into place behind their Zimbabwean F# marimbas. I have to say, though, that my expectations could not compare to the band’s actual talent.
Putting the built-up anticipation to rest, the eleven marimba players on stage simultaneously swung their mallets down to start the concert. At that point, my eyes widened and welcomed some of the most exhilarating and joyous music I have ever heard. The powerful energy that the group channeled as they jumped from marimba to marimba quickly filled the room, leaving the audience unable to resist the urge to smile.
The band approached all of their musical pieces with an admirable vivacity and genuineness that touched everyone in the theater. As stated by Dillon Pang (IV), “Everyone on stage was having a lot of fun which made the audience have a lot of fun too.” Whether they were playing on stage or dancing and hyping up the crowd offstage, the Maru-a-Pula band members left a lasting positive impression on all of the Milton students and adults that attended the show. Mr. Sinicrope, the Founder and Head of the Jazz Program at Milton, said, “Their music inspires our students and me to play [our instruments] with greater spirit.”
The group comes from the Maru-a-Pula school, located in Gabarone, Bostwana. This prep school is one of the best in Southern Africa and currently has 700 students, 675 more than when it was first established in 1972. Along with its multitude of academic and artistic opportunities, the Maru-a-Pula school encourages students to participate in community service. One of these service opportunities is the marimba band, which all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are required to try out for. Based on skill and academic prowess, kids from the school are picked to be a part of the band and partake in practices 4 days a week, 3 hours a day.
Dedicated to being a socially aware and responsible community, the Maru-a-Pula uses the marimba band as a way to fund their scholarship program for kids who have lost their parents to HIV and AIDS. The school currently supports 20 orphans and pays for their academic, athletic, medical, and housing needs. Following the trend set by marimba master Alport Mhlanga, who passed away four years ago, the Maru-a-Pula Marimba Band makes frequent visits to the United States for music tours. Every two years, they come to America and alternate between Northwest and Northeast performances. All donations and money made during these performances go directly to the Orphan Scholarship Fund.
The Maru-a-Pula School and Milton Academy have developed a strong relationship over the past few years. In fact, the marimba band, once led and coordinated by Milton graduate Reif Larsen, has visited Milton in 2002, 2008, 2012, and now 2016. Milton Academy also performed in Botswana in 2003 and 2009.
I thoroughly encourage anyone to watch this amazing band play the next time the group returns to Milton. You will not regret it. In fact, you will only be made happier. Besides, if two U.S. presidents have seen them perform, you might as well get with the trend.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=8072