Zeltsman Marimba Festival (founded and directed by Nancy) produced intensive seminars, brought together world-class marimba and percussion performers to work closely with participants, and presented concerts open to the public – all with the objective of stimulating greater appreciation for the marimba as a concert instrument. Following the success of Princeton Marimba Festival in 2001, it was organized as a 501(c)3 non-profit, and the name was changed to facilitate moving the event to other locations. Zeltsman Marimba Festival, Inc. was dissolved at the end of 2020 (and donated its assets to Southern California Marimba).

My life, as well as many other people, would not be the same without you and your event. ZMF will always be a warm and fuzzy place in my heart. But where are all the young marimba couples going to meet now!? – Pius Cheung (2020)

Over 600 participants attended ZMF events between 2001 and 2018. As Artistic Director, Nancy organized the two-week events with two primary assistants over all those years: Shawn Michalek and Mike Truesdell. Festivals were co-sponsored by and held at Lawrence University Conservatory in Appleton, WI (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014), Rutgers University-Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Brunswick, NJ (2015, 2017), The Boston Conservatory in Boston, MA (2004, 2006), The Colburn School in Los Angeles, CA (2008), Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA (2013), and Conservatorium van Amsterdam in The Netherlands (2010). ZMF On Tour (4- to 6-day) events were held in Japan, China, Luxembourg and Boston. Numerous lifelong friendships were formed and three couples who met at ZMF married.

I feel like I learned so much more in two weeks than I have in years.

– Courtney Stredder (2013, 2014, 2015, 2018)

Beside Nancy, the other mainstay faculty member was Jack Van Geem whose cumulative weeks spent at ZMFs total more than a half year of his life! Other key contributors to ZMFs included Dane Richeson, Nanae Mimura, Ivana Bilic, Jean Geoffroy, Peter Prommel, Fumito Nunoya, Rachel Xi Zhang, Laurent Warnier, Pedro Carneiro, Beverley Johnston, Julie Spencer, Gordon Stout, Emmanuel Séjourné, David Friedman, Christos Rafalides, Anders Åstrand, Theodor Milkov, Ria Ideta, William Moersch and Thomas Burritt; visiting composers included Gunther Schuller, Louis Andriessen, Lyle Mays, Andrew Thomas, Robert Aldridge, Steven Mackey, Paul Lansky, Alejandro Viñao, Daniel Levitan, Errollyn Wallen and James Rolfe; administrative assistants included Michael Ptacin, Dane Palmer, Una Cheng, Ayami Okamura, and Brian Calhoon; and Board members included Cayenna Ponchione, Van Geem, Richeson, Truesdell, and Michalek. At least 80 more faculty, associate faculty, guest presenters and performers or groups shared their expertise over all the years, and dozens of participants on logistics teams poured themselves into complicated maneuvers behind the scenes (often involving 25 marimbas per festival) so that everything ran smoothly. 

ZMF was a life-changing and inspiring experience. 

– Adrian Lin (2013)

Deepest thanks to all who contributed so enthusiastically and meaningfully to the ZMF experience: participants, faculty and audiences alike! Celebrate the marimba and stay connected via links below.

Facebook/ZMF | ZMF On Tour (history of events) | Zeltsman Marimba Festival (history of locations/presenters) | Lyle Mays’ talk at ZMF 2009 | Gunther Schuller’s talk at ZMF 2009

Get Intermediate Masterworks for Marimba, vol. 1 & vol. 2 | 2-CD (24 marimba solos commissioned through ZMF New Music)

ZMF2009MIvanaBilic010col 2

Selected promo videos:
This is Lawrence (ZMF 2009)
WLUK-TV (ZMF 2009)
ZMF 2015
The ZMF Experience! (2018)



Photos: Claudia Hansen (2009); Shawn and Nancy by Aaron T. Smith

Copyright 2024 Nancy Zeltsman