Since 1990 Holy Cross’ Marimba Ensemble has been teaching leadership, mentoring, and music skills to young people in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Now, another tCI parish, San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, CA, has started a second Marimba Ensemble with the help of young leaders from the Holy Cross group. Earlier this year, the two groups met to perform together and learn more about life outside of their own communities.
The marimba is a musical percussion instrument consisting of wooden bars that three to four players strike with mallets. Multiple marimbas can be played simultaneously, and other instruments often accompany them to create a range of rhythms and songs. The nature of the instrument requires teamwork, cooperation, and practice, which makes it particularly well-suited for a collaborative performance.
Young mentors and teachers from both groups prepared for the past year to organize this adventure for 18 performers—ranging in age from 12 to 24—and several adult leaders. Communicating through social media, the groups got to know each other before their trip and made a plan for how they would perform as one band.
The ensembles first gathered together at Corpus Christi Parish in Stone Mountain, GA, where the two groups bonded quickly. They then traveled together to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where they put on a concert at a local restaurant along the city’s riverfront.
Through the generosity of local donors, the young musicians were able to experience the ocean and the famous Florida Everglades. They went snorkeling and rode on a riverboat and an airboat. The Everglades gave both groups a close-up exposure to and a few adventures in a part of their country that is extremely different from their home cities!
Before heading home, the two groups returned to Corpus Christi and performed an evening concert for a large crowd. While in the area, the young people also visited the Dr. Martin Luther King historical site in Atlanta.
During the trip, several Claretians and other adult chaperones guided the young people in reflection and dialogue about what they experienced, how they were affected, and how they will work for peace and justice in the world.
The funding for this trip was provided by the Claretians, local and national donors, and the Marimba Ensembles’ own fund-raising efforts. Help us give more young people the opportunity to experience a trip like this one. Make a “program-category use” donation to Arts, and 95% of your money will go directly to these programs.