VIDA CHENOWETH, First Classical Marimbist

       "Eight Oklahomans will be Inducted tonight" ( into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame ) ~ Tulsa Tribune ~ 1984

       "Vida Chenoweth of Enid, concert marimbist, linguist and pioneer in ethnomusicology for her analytical writings on unwritten music systems. Dr. Chenoweth has performed in Carnegie Hall and with major symphony orchestras worldwide. She lived among the Usarufa tribe in New Guinea...later developed a program in ethnomusicology for the Wheaton Conservatory of Music, based on her own theory of melodic perception and analysis."

       Chenoweth was acclaimed by New York and European critics as the one who elevated the marimba to concert status. For her contributions to music, she has been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1984) and the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame (1994), and in 2001 was selected by the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England, as one of 2000 outstanding musicians of the 20th century.

Read more on Chenoweth's bio at The Percussive Arts Society ~

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Vida Chenoweth
Classic Marimbist

First recording of solo works for Marimba

The photograph depicts a release after a quick passage,
captured by photographer Priscilla Pennell in Carnegie Hall

~ click picture to enlarge

 "Although there once was, probably in the 78-rpm era, an RCA Victor recording of light-classical marimba transcriptions played by Doris Stockton, Miss Chenoweth's debut - program of originals as well as unarranged, note for note versions of pieces originally written for other instruments is the first really notable phonographic representation of the instrument's serious potentials. It certainly substantiates the fastidious musicianship acclaimed in her concert recitals."(High Fidelity, December 1962)

"A MUST for all who delight in the unusual." (American Record Guide, 1962)

"By the time Chenoweth had performed several New York Town Hall recitals and twice played in Carnegie Hall, every major critic had heard her and wrote astonishing, glowing reviews which established her in the front rank of the young American artists."
(Musical America, Dec. 1, 1959)

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Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra

by Robert Kurka

Richard Korn conducts Orchestra of America
Vida Chenoweth, marimba soloist

Photographed in Carnegie Hall by Priscilla Pennell

~ click picture to enlarge

This recording commemorates an historical event in Carnegie Hall. The night of November 11, 1959, was historic not only for marimbist Vida Chenoweth, but for the instrument itself. It was the first time the Marimba had been invited into the leading concert halls in America. It was a war of nerves for young Chenoweth whose performance and instrument were scrutinized by the most demanding of concert audiences. In the end, the performance drew rave reviews from critics of every leading New York newspaper and magazine, including Time, New Yorker and Variety.

Robert Kurka, who composed the work for Chenoweth, was named (Life magazine) one of the seven leading composers in America. His death of leukemia at age 39 preceded the premier of his marimba concerto by two years. Critic Jay S. Harrison wrote about the Carnegie Hall premier :

       "... Mr. Kurka located innumerable means of displaying the marimba at its best, and his concerto is everywhere lively and zestful. It is mostly diatonic, filled with smart and leaping tunes, and it exploits the agility of its soloist to the utmost. Fortunately, Miss Chenoweth is a real-life virtuoso who, no matter what the demands made on her, missed not a note and managed, further, to wring every possible shade of sonority from the wooden keys laid out before her. There was exhausting bravura to her work and genuine musicality as well. It was a star performance and a bewitching one - no question of that."

The recording is presented live and unedited.
The concerto is published by G. Schirmer, New York, N.Y.

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view Sinfonica Nacional de Guatemala with Director Jose Maria Franco Gil and Marimba Soloist Vida Chenoweth

First Public Performance (from the original score)


by Jorge Alvaro Sarmientos
Vida Chenoweth, Marimba Soloist

Click album cover to view
Sinfonica Nacional de Guatemala with
Director Jose Maria Franco Gil
and Marimba Soloist Vida Chenoweth

"Vida Chenoweth was the news this evening, interpreting with singular mastery 'Concertino for Marimba y Orquesta' by the now famous Jorge Sarmientos. Vida Chenoweth, whom we have heard before in recital, proved once more on this occasion her high standards of virtuosity on our national instrument, but most admirable of all was the style - so eminently Guatemalan - her interpretation of the work; in fact, it left nothing to be desired..." (La Hora, Guatemala 26 de Septiembre de 1960) Read Reviews in Spanish

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Click for historic photo of Paul Creston

Concertino for Marimba and Orchestra

by Paul Creston

Richard Korn conducts Orchestra of America
Vida Chenoweth, marimba soloist

Photographed in Carnegie Hall by Priscilla Pennell

Click on cover for historic photo of Paul Creston

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click for pictures

Concerto for
Marimba & Vibraphone

by Darius Milhaud
Vida Chenoweth, Soloist

Photographs by Eva Barrett

click on album cover for pictures

Darius Milhaud was one of six famous French composers known as "Les Six". He came to America during WW2 and later divided his time between America and France. Always in search of a teacher, the young marimbist Vida Chenoweth hitched a ride to Aspen, Colorado, where Milhaud was teaching and took this rehearsal tape for the composer's criticism. Listening to it, Milhaud was remarkably engrossed. Afterward he told Chenoweth that it was the first time that he had heard it!

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CONCERTO FOR MARIMBA AND VIBRAPHONE was commissioned by Jack Connor, Percussionist with the St. Louis Symphony. In performance, the two instruments are placed at a right angle, with one and then the other acting as a solo instrument. In some passages the two are played simultaneously; the player sustains the sound of the vibraphone by keeping one foot on its sustaining pedal while pivoting to the marimba and superimposing its sound over that of the vibraphone.
~ Live rehearsal, limited edition - Permission by Enoch Cie/Theodore Presser Company/SCAP

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Latin American musiciansLatin American musicians

Please click on album cover

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Vida Chenoweth
More for Marimba

Vida Chenoweth, marimbist
with Samuel Baron, flutist

Includes compositions by ~
Dean Sanders, Harry Hewitt, Eugene Ulrich ~
J.S. Bach, Niccolo Paganini and Francois Schubert

Click on cover for program notes

Click on picture for Program Notes

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click here for a picture of Vida with Jose Bethancourt and Dean Sanders

Latest CD addition ~

Vida Chenoweth, marimbist
with pianists Dean Sanders
and Kenneth Mays

Click on cover to view full program notes and
an historic picture with Jose Bethancourt and Dean Sanders

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Vida walking in the jungle near Danau Bira, Irian Jaya (formerly) ~ now part of West Papua

To purchase any of these CD's or the books and music below ~
Order by Email from: ~ or call: 215-659-0100

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click to see reviews of this book


Vida Chenoweth

Click on illustration for reviews


Compiled by David Vela

Translated from Spanish and edited by
Vida Chenoweth

Click on picture to enlarge

Marimba Sheet Music
Four Central American Folk Tunes
7 Bach Chorales ~ edited by Chenoweth
Three for Four Mallets

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