The Legacy of Fernando Morales Matus, UV Professor and Marimba Virtuoso

MusicNotes2015

If you walked past him on the sidewalk, you might not notice Fernando Matus (as everyone called him.) His slight figure and austere clothing made him inconspicuous. A more careful observer, however, would immediately notice his rapid, determined pace. This briskness characterized his daily walks from his home to the Musical Initiation School (CIMI) downtown, to the Music Faculty, and to other venues where he collaborated with a variety of musicians. Nothing in his unassuming manner would prepare you to see him dressed in tails, standing next to his marimba in front of a full orchestra, two mallets in each hand, drawing incredibly lush sounds from an instrument which he himself had constructed.

The Encyclopedia of Percussion describes him as a virtuoso. Indeed, his technique was an extraordinary personal achievement. Composer Francisco Gonzalez– wanting to include the marimba in a piece he was writing– once asked Prof. Matus how to treat the marimba: “Like a violin,” he said. González goes on to say: “I wrote the second movement of my marimba sonata with a sustained tremolo. I dared to do that because I had heard the maestro make the marimba “sing” on and on, even though the sound of the marimba supposedly dies out quickly. . . but he could make the marimba vibrate like an organ playing a Bach chorale.” Indeed, Morales Matus included Bach and other composers of the Western canon in his recitals.

Written by Eileen Sullivan on March 28, 2015 @ 1:56 pm


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