About five years ago, David and Arlyn Alderdice purchased a Zimbabwean-style marimba, a large, flat, table-like instrument with big keys that, when struck with a mallet, resonates with beautiful sound. Musicians and teachers, they wanted an instrument they could play at belly-level for their unborn baby boy.
They didn't know that their decision would bring a new style of music to the North Fork Valley, and later this week, to the world.
On Dec. 15, the Embodying Rhythm Marimba Ensemble will give a concert at the Paradise Theatre to celebrate the release of its debut CD, "Music For Everyday Life." The CD features 13 songs, most original compositions by Alderdice, and two traditional Zimbab-wean songs. In addition to David and Arlyn, the ensemble features Daniel Be, Jeannette Carey, Matt Drbohlav, Rebecca Drbohlav, Dylan Fixmer and Jen Sanborn.
The event is the third of the four-concert World Music in Paradise series produced by Alderdice. The family-friendly performance will include music from the CD and from around the globe. In addition to the marimbas, ensemble members will perform on trumpet, mandolin, flute, melodica, drum-set, Cajon, steelpan, glockenspiel, trombone, saxophone and vocals.
The CD is the culmination of years of work. After experiencing that first marimba, said Alderdice, he and Arlyn wanted a full set. A makeshift ensemble of locals who also liked the instrument formed and held concerts to raise funds. "The magic of this style of music is in the entire set," said Alderdice,
They began branching out beyond Zimbabwean music to music from around the world, and Alderdice, a world-class percussionist and session drummer who has collaborated with musicians throughout the valley and the world, began arranging traditional songs from around the world for them to play.
A band based around marimbas is "somewhat of a new sound," and opens up a world of possibilities, he said. "It gives us a big palette to draw from."
From there, the natural progression was to record a CD. Because all of the musicians have day jobs, they can't take off and tour, but they can send CDs, he said. The CD also documents where they have progressed as a band, which has occurred naturally, here in the North Fork Valley, and takes the band to the next level.
For Alderdice, who has performed on dozens of albums during his career, it represents his first work as artistic director and producer. He composed and arranged all but one of the songs, which was composed by Matt Drbohlav, a local dentist.
Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and $15 for students.
As part of the World Music in Paradise mission to provide educational outreach to the community, at 10 a.m. Sunday, Alderdice will present a marimba ensemble workshop at the Paradise. No experience is necessary and all instruments are provided. Participants ages 9 and up can experience the feeling of making wonderful sounds and musical vibrations with beautiful, wooden percussion instruments traditional to the country of Zimbabwe. Tickets are $10 for students under 18, $20 for adults, and available at paradiseofpaonia.com, the Paradise, Cirque Cyclery, and Lizzy's Market.
The workshop provides a fun, family-friendly environment for exploring music, said Alderdice. Because creating music on marimbas is such a basic function of striking bars with a mallet, anyone can play them. Alderdice said he can create a part for everyone based on their level of experience, from those who have never played music to the practicing professional. Before the workshop is over, they'll be performing. Said Alderdice, "We have so much fun playing and we want to extend the opportunity to the community."