The Marimba Ensemble has been a sign of neighborhood hope for over 19 years. It is overseen by Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF, and led by a team of youth and young adult players. The Marimba Ensemble, accompanied by the Children’s Choir, plays every Sunday at the 10:30 am mass at Holy Cross Church, 46th and Hermitage. The Ensemble has grown through the years, and now includes 26 regular players as well as 14 students in the sixth through eighth grades. The Ensemble’s repertoire includes a wide variety of Mexican, Caribbean, popular, and intricate classical pieces.


Weekly lessons are offered by Mr. Carlos Mejia, a Guatemalan musician who teaches a wide variety of songs. Other lessons are offered by experienced young adult Marimba players who help the students prepare for masses and outside performances. Ms. Tina Keitel, an instructor from the Merit School of Music, teaches music theory, equipping our students for music literacy.


Periodically, all students perform at parish Recitals, as well as parish Youth Music Concerts. This past spring, students also played at MeritFest sponsored by the Merit School of Music.


Accomplished players who show their dedication through lesson attendance, practice participation, playing at mass, and fulfilling performance commitments throughout the year, are invited to more extensive Concert tours. There were three long-distance Concert experiences in the summer of 2010. One took place over Father’s Day Weekend, where the group was welcomed by the Zion Mennonite Community of Souderton, PA, for their Sunday service and the evening Sundae in the Park concert. As June closed, members of the Ensemble, with chaperones, traveled to Boys Town, Nebraska, to enjoy a “picnic” with the homes where our Chicago youth now reside, and afterwards performed a special concert outdoorsl. In July, the Ensemble travelled extensively, playing outside St. Louis MO, twice in Albuquerque, at a restaurant in Colorado Springs, a mass and concert at St. John the Baptist in Longmont CO, and two masses and a concert at Ave Maria Parish in Parker, CO. The tour ended with the St. Henry Pig Roast in Dayton, OH.


The marimba itself is a keyboard percussion instrument, similar to a xylophone, originating in southern Mexico and Central America. The large size (some over four octaves) allows up to four “marimbistas” to play together on one instrument. For youth, this is a wonderful experience of learning to work together. The music is augmented by bass guitar and other percussion instruments.


For more information, including how to purchase CD’s or book a performance, please see the Marimba dropdown menu on the website’s main page.

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