By Alice Herman
The Heartland Marimba Quartet — self-dubbed HMQuartet, or HMQ — will perform at Grinnell College on Friday at 7:30 PM in JRC 101. The concert will represent one of many on their semester-long “Spring Tour” of the Midwest.
Matthew Coley, Michael Jones, Joe Millea and Andrew Veit have toured as HMQ for a year following their month-long artist residency with the Heartland Marimba Festival Organization. Coley, artistic director of the HMQ, has enjoyed an acclaimed career as a percussionist. Lauren Warnecke of the music and dance and music review board “See Chicago Dance” described Coley as “delivering virtuoso…exquisite soloing on the marimba.” Coley has traveled to thirty states and internationally as a soloist. His most recent album, Souvenirs, was released in 2012 and features 80 minutes of percussive delight.
Millea, who describes himself as interested in “finding new ways of exploring sounds through traditional, extended, and electronic practices,” has performed throughout the US and in Latin America and Europe. He has performed solo and in chamber orchestras. When he’s not on tour, Millea works as a music lecturer at Sam Houston State University. Millea is the co-creative director of the HMQ.
Co-creative director Veit works as a freelance marimbist and music educator. He has taught seminars in various states of the US. Jones, co-creative director of the HMQ has traveled extensively in the US as well, and has performed with acclaimed marimbist Keiko Abe at Yamaha Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
The marimba — a wooden xylophone — is a descendent instrument of the balafon, a West African instrument that has been played since the 14th century. The marimba, which was invented in Central America in the 16th century, is the national instrument of Guatemala and Costa Rica. The instrument is widely enjoyed internationally, and the HMQ is anticipated to delight the College with mellow tones.