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Otterbein Marimba Band students helped celebrate Mardi Gras at Friendship Village

Otterbein Marimba Band students helped celebrate Mardi Gras at Friendship Village

The Otterbein Marimba Band, directed by Dr. Jack Jenny, helped the residents of Friendship Village of Dublin begin the Lenten season in a celebratory mood.

The four-piece band, consisting of three Otterbein students, Peter Huston ’16, Seth Sprang ’18 and Garrett Lind ’19, along with Jenny, an instructor in the Department of Music, performed at Mardi Gras night Feb. 9 at Friendship Village, an independent senior living center in Dublin, Ohio.

“It was a unique evening of music and education,” said Beth Baker, resident services director at Friendship Village. “So many of our residents are no longer able to get out and this type of community outreach is so valuable to keep them engaged with life. Music is the international language and its rhythms and melodies are seldom forgotten even as other ways to communicate drift away.”

Jenny put together a program of festive music varying from authentic marimba band music from Central America to classical music arrangements from Handel and Mozart, sprinkled with a little jazz from Dave Brubeck.

“It was packed,” Jenny said about the venue. “The residents just really responded. They loved it, especially one piece where we handed out shakers and other instruments to members of the audience so they could participate with us.”

This marked the bands third visit to a senior living center since the band formed in 2011. Other stops included the Sunrise Senior Living of Worthington, in Worthington, Ohio in 2011 and Kensington Place, in Columbus, in 2013.

“It was wonderful to see how playing some simple pieces of music made the residents so happy,” said Lind, one of the three Otterbein students to perform at Friendship Village. “The residents were so grateful to have us come and perform for them. It seemed to have made their day, possibly even their year.”

Band member Huston agreed.

“Joie de vivre is what the marimba band is all about, and bringing some to people in assisted living facilities is important work. It was also good to see the audience getting engaged in the piece where Dr. Jenny passed out instruments for them to play along. They were better at keeping time than most audiences I have played for. Some of them were also quite interested to learn about our instruments.”

After the performance, many residents came up on the stage to talk with the members of the band.

“They were very, very interested in talking with the students,” Jenny said. “Several members of the audience personally knew some very important figures in the marimba world. I was astounded.”

One resident’s mother played the marimba professionally, a Deagan, designed by marimba virtuoso and engineer Claire Omar Musser in the 1920’s. Another resident knew Ruth Jeanne, who premiered the first marimba concerto at Carnegie Hall in 1940.

Visit the Otterbein Department of Music Ensembles page for other opportunities for students.

Find more concert announcements and dates for all Otterbein groups on the Otterbein Music Events Facebook page.