About Modern Marimba

Our Story

Modern Marimba started in October 2019 with a mission by co-founders Tihda Vongkoth and Michael Jones to curate concert programs featuring marimba, vibraphone, and other mallet percussion keyboard music. There are few opportunities and spaces where people can come together and experience this music.

In Sarasota, Florida, on land once stewarded by the Indigenous Calusa people, MODMA creates spaces to listen, recognize, and reflect on powerful expressions of ideas through sound – and amplify and RECLAIM the musical voices of living, formerly living, and collective people who have been muted throughout western history.

It seeks to learn and partner with those who take responsibility and action in creating sustainable and equitable musical ecosystems that dismantle oppression and dismantle white supremacy: socially conscious audiences, music creators, composers, musicians, artisans, arts leaders, musical instrument manufacturers, performing artists, educators, and students/parents; organizations and foundations for human rights, social justice, climate justice, disability justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, and especially racial equity; and ethically conscious businesses, supporters and donors. We are all in this together.

As a nonprofit organization, MODMA also seeks to participate in the lifelong process of learning by offering education programs in music for young people in Southwest Florida, and it hopes to inspire, support, and learn from younger generations of creative, empathetic, and intelligent humans through music. Through interviews on social media, it also supports and recognizes many of today’s figures in music who are BIPOC (Black Indigenous, and People of Color), LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, non- binary, genderqueer, gender fluid and all the many identities that are wonderful), people with Disabilities, and Women. To learn more about MODMA’s youth educational programs, click here.

About the Marimba

The marimba is sounded by striking wooden bars with a mallet. People in almost every culture developed a marimba-like instrument, but one source of the origin of its name is derived from the Bantú languages, a large family of languages spoken in Sub-Sarahan Africa, in which rimba suggests a “a sound of wood” such as a bar, and ma is a cumulative prefix; thus, marimba can be translated as “many sounds of wood”. Other sources translate the marimba to mean “wood that sings”.

Learn about the various histories of the marimba from Virginia Alcarria’s YouTube channel, Virginia’s Marimba Stories (captions available). MODMA hopes to learn more and amplify artistic creations in this world of mallet keyboard music.