Unique duo to play Fletcher concert

Leah Rankin | Staff Writer

When pianist Rose Chancler Feinbloom submitted an advertisement to Craigslist looking for a musician to play contemporary chamber music with her, she never expected the ad to be answered by a marimba player.

Jane Boxall, classical marimba player by day and rock drummer by night, answered the ad within three hours of its being posted to the Internet.

That was back in 2008. The two, now officially known as the Ricochet Duo, will perform a concert at 4 p.m. today in Fletcher Music Hall.

“Craigslist has been very good to (Boxall),” Feinbloom said. “Jane got her dog off Craigslist; she got her car off Craigslist; she even got her house off Craigslist.”

Today’s concert showcases this unusual instrumental combination in the context of tangos and ragtime. There are a few names the audience might recognize, including Astor Piazzolla, Scott Joplin and Darius Milhaud, but for the most part, this music has only been around for the past 100 years.

“When I think about this program, I get a little kerfluffled, because there’s so much stuff in it,” Feinbloom said.

Before their first meeting, neither Feinbloom nor Boxall knew how well the marimba and the piano would mesh musically, although Boxall said she was optimistic.

“The marimba seemed like this amazing combination of the percussive and rhythmic power of drumming, with the melodic and harmonic capabilities of the piano,” Boxall said.

They both said the only real challenge of putting the two instruments together was a physical one.

Sometimes, after squeezing an electric piano and a marimba into a tiny room, Boxall would have to crawl underneath her marimba to get to the other side.

Both musicians often have to adapt to the instruments provided for them in different concert halls. Each performance space presents the challenges of getting used to a new instrument and getting those instruments to speak correctly for each piece.

“Sometimes the two keyboard instruments really mesh together,” Boxall said. “Sometimes at concerts, listeners will say that they can’t tell which notes are played by the piano or the marimba because they are so blended.”

Boxall and Feinbloom also support the work of female composers. Boxall devoted her doctoral thesis to the subject of female composers after noticing that most professional marimba players tended to be women. The duo regularly performs works by female composers, including Vida Chenoweth and Rain Worthington.

About the same time Boxall and Feinbloom began to rehearse as a duo, Feinbloom founded “Piano by Nature,” a concert series near her home in the Adirondacks especially focused on contemporary music. Boxall was one of the first musicians to perform in this series.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get more people to come to concerts, and how to get kids to come, and I feel that new music is really the best way,” Feinbloom said. “I think it offers the greatest variety.”

With hundreds of years’ worth of repertoire to choose from, the Ricochet Duo presents some of the most current trends in music making, including an unusual instrument combination that still excites interest for both the audience and the performers.

Donations for this concert benefit the Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship Fund.