Marimba Linda Xelajú
2009-10 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient
Silver Spring’s Marimba Linda Xelajú is a family ensemble that carries on the tradition of Guatemalan marimba playing.
The marimba is at the core of Guatemala’s musical traditions; it is a musical instrument with West African roots that can be found throughout northern Central America and southern Mexico. The marimba is Guatemala’s official national instrument, and government ordinances require broadcasting of marimba music daily. The contemporary marimba’s construction is like that of the xylophone, while its key arrangement resembles that of a piano—the “black keys” are set above and behind the “white keys.”
Robert Girón chose to start his family ensemble in 1995 to promote the marimba tradition within the United States, as well as to pass it on to his children. He had a marimba hand-built in Guatemala, and the family band literally features “all hands” in the family playing on a beautifully ornate marimba at once. Though playing the marimba has traditionally been a male pursuit in Guatemala, Robert has chosen to share his love and knowledge of the marimba with his daughters as well as his son.