Award winning New Zealand musician Yoshiko Tsuruta isn’t offended when people haven’t heard of the marimba

After all she knows she’s only one of about 100 in the country who actually know how to play the percussion instrument which belongs to the idiophone family.

But the Tauranga based musician is hoping to make more people aware of it.

She’s bringing New Zealand’s largest marimba for a concert at The Plaza in Putaruru on Saturday, September 9 at 2.30pm.

The massive instrument, which weighs 150kg and has to be dismantled into 10 bags for transportation, consists of wooden bars made from rosewood which are struck with mallets to produce musical tones. Resonators underneath the bars, which are arranged like the keys of a piano, then amplify their sound.

Tsuruta, who completed her master’s degree at the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversitat in Linz, Austria, began playing the instrument when she was nine in Japan.

“It is actually more common in Japan and people learn it like they do piano and the violin but if I say I play it here people ask ‘what do you play?'” she said.

“I am trying to change that though and create a market here because it is a great instrument.”

As a perfectionist she said getting sound right was her number one priority when playing but she said even non musicians enjoy watching her.

“Because I am moving around a lot when I play even people who are not very interested in classical music still have fun,” she said.

“For me I care about the sound but it is a performance instrument too.”

“It’s three dimensional music, It is very physical and I don’t need to do any other exercise,” she laughed.

She said although people love hearing and watching it being played she said breaking down the ‘unknown’ barrier still proves difficult.

“I talk to music societies where I haven’t performed before and normally they think it’s a risk because they don’t know how many people will show up but once people know about it and know that it’s coming it creates a healthy situation for concerts because it is so unique,” she said.

She was looking forward to her first solo concert in Putaruru.

“People can expect it to be dynamic. I have six pieces which I have chosen to show different types of music,” she said.

“I believe good musician’s should be able to play all different types of music, not everything the same. It keeps it creative.”




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