It is obviously not uncommon to hear high quality music from students in Cambridge, but last Monday the Sheraton Commander played host to an exceptionally energetic display of unbridled musical joy. Eleven teenagers from the Maru-a-Pula School, a private school in Gaborone, Botswana, captivated their audience with a vivacious Marimba Band performance and few in the crowd could have been sad to see the show run longer than scheduled. The music was bouncy and dynamic, the kind that compels one to get up and dance. With neither sheet music nor conductor, the band flowed effortlessly as one from moments of triumphant forte â€“ for which the player on the largest marimba endured a full body workout by swinging each mallet from above his or her head down to strike the keys â€“ to moments of a controlled but lively hush. Individual solos demonstrated great skill and also exuded humor as the performers teased their listeners with false finishes.
From beginning to end, the students’ smiles radiated a happiness that was inexorably infectious. The students were visibly sweating at the end of each song as they all reached for their water bottles, yet the moment the next piece began they appeared to give no thought to fatigue, striking the marimbas with as much exuberance as ever. I was in the audience as one of six Harvard students who taught and tutored at Maru-a-Pula last summer in the CAS’s Harvard-Africa Exchange Program, and the chance to see some of my own students, and friends, give so much energy and demonstrate such talent was truly inspiring.
The concert marked the finale in a three-week tour around the Northeast USA. I for one certainly hope they plan another visit to Harvard’s neighborhood next year!