Zeltsman Marimba Festival's mission has been to facilitate intensive seminars, bring together world-class marimba and percussion performers to work closely with participants, and present 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. 

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

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

Over 600 participants attended ZMF events between 2001 and 2018. Artistic Director Nancy Zeltsman 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 there are three married couples who met at ZMF. 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!

Such a moving and wonderful experience. I truly felt the family vibe; it is what music is all about.

– Meghan McManus (2011)

Other key contributors to ZMFs included Dane Richeson, Nanae Mimura, Ivana Bilic, Jean Geoffroy, Rachel Xi Zhang, Laurent Warnier, Fumito Nunoya, Peter Prommel, Pedro Carneiro, Beverley Johnston, Julie Spencer, Gordon Stout, Emmanuel Séjourné, David Friedman, Christos Rafalides, Anders Astrand, Theodor Milkov, Anne-Julie Caron, William Moersch and Thomas Burritt; visiting composers included Gunther Schuller, Lyle Mays, Andrew Thomas, Errollyn Wallen and Robert Aldridge; 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! Currently, there are no future plans of ZMF. Celebrate the marimba and stay connected via links below.

Facebook/ZMF | ZMF On Tour (history of events) | Zeltsman Marimba Festival (history of locations/presenters)

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

ZMF2009MIvanaBilic010col 2

Selected promo videos:
ZMF 2009
ZMF 2015
The ZMF Experience! (2018)



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

Copyright 2020 Nancy Zeltsman