Biography and Resume

 

 

Biography

           Living deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, Larissa Venzie is a musician of the highest caliber.  Her outstanding talent on the marimba is hidden among the more traditional old-time and bluegrass music that regionally abounds; but all who listen to her agree that to hear Larissa is to experience the marimba played by a true artist of the instrument.  She has developed her skills in producing beautiful tone and musical timing to softly lure the listener in with gentle flights of melody, or sweep over the full range of the marimba with agility and grace.  Larissa’s accomplished mallet technique has power, dexterity, and delicacy which allows each note to develop to its fullest. Artistry coupled with an exquisite five octave Concert DeMorrow marimba make Larissa’s sound truly unique in the realm of modern marimba. 

           Larissa is recognized for her spell-binding musical interpretation, which shines in her performances. A sample of the recognition of her outstanding talent includes the following quotes:


 
                                                                         

“What a beautiful evening of music that reminded me of how powerfully expressive and touching music can be in the hands of an artist!”  
    -Bryant Moxely, Chair Bluefield College

“...a show imbued with passion, intrigue with the mystery of such an unusual instrument,
and a solid demonstration of profound musical talent and ability”
    -Randall Smith, Virginia Intermont College

“Larissa is an excellent musician.  The range of dynamics that she was able to exhibit on
her instrument was truly amazing!  The sounds of the marimba were beautiful and the
audience was wowed by her performance!”  
    -Jane Lonon, Executive Director Ashe County Arts Council

“This concert had a profoundly positive effect on those who attend it, with many exclaiming that
it was “rich and melodious,” “vibrant with beautiful pitch and harmony”, “resonating with
hypnotic music that was thoroughly energetic”
    -Dr. Benjamin G. Kramer, New River Community College

“I was particularly amazed at the extreme dynamic contrast the marimba has when played by
someone of your caliber. The combination of virtuosity and informed discussion of the works made for an enlivening  performance.  The music just seemed to float out of the instrument.”
                                                                      -Dr. Charles Priest Instrumental Music Director, Bluefield College

 

          Larissa started her musical journey on the piano at the age of seven, but, after hearing a marimba for the first time a few years later, she knew that was her focus.  Combining her natural talent, curiosity, and drive,  Larissa devoured every musical opportunity the school system had to offer. This led to collegiate level studies of the marimba at Radford University before graduating from high school.  While still a high school senior, Larissa inspired musician Jack Scott to compose the marimba solo "Fantasie in Eb Minor" which she premiered in 2000.

          Larissa continued her formal education at Ithaca College in New York, earning her Bachelors Degree in Percussion Performance in 2004, and her Masters Degree in Percussion Performance in 2007.   Larissa specialized in the performance of the marimba under the guidance of the world-renowned marimba artist Gordon Stout; this blossomed into a long standing personal and professional relationship. 

In 2002, Stout wrote "Laruci in the Sky", a marimba duet, for Larissa and a fellow student.  In 2007, Larissa premiered Stout's composition "Four Dances for Marimba" which is dedicated to her.  In the same year, Stout acknowledged Larissa's exceptional talent by recording "Laruci in the Sky" with her. This recording is available on his album Welcome to Stoutland, where her refers to Larissa as a "superb marimbist and musician". Most recently, Stout composed a marimba solo for Larissa titled "Luvlars" in the fall of 2016. 

          After completing her formal education, Larissa realized that it was time for her to return to the peace and splendor found in the Virginia mountains.  She continues to share her love and passion for music by performing across the state and is a member of a select group of artists that makes up the Virginia Commission for the Arts Performing Arts Tour Directory.  In recent years Larissa has given recitals in Independence, Galax, Abingdon, Bluefield, Bristol, Grundy, Blacksburg, Marion, Gloucester, Dublin, Norfolk, Davelville, Culpeper, and Roanoke.  She has been invited to perform for Virginia Commission for the Arts events including the women's showcase Minds Wide Open in Galax, Virginia in 2010 and as a solo recitalist as part of the Virginia Highlands Festival in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015.  

          In addition to performing, Larissa has focused on recording, engineering and producing her music.  For her first project, Larissa arranged traditional Jewish melodies for the marimba.   Her idea was to explore music that has been heard one way for generations in a new way, with a new sound.   In 2012, Larissa released her debut album Neshamarimba which is a combination of the Hebrew word "neshamah" (meaning "soul" or "breath") and the word "marimba" (meaning "the wood that sings" in the Bantu languages of central Africa).  Larissa’s second project is a collection of six popular lullabies that she has adapted to the marimba.  This album, titled Lullabies for Marimba, was released in 2015 to be enjoyed by all ages.

In 2016, Larissa and Stout were invited to work with the world's best marimba manufacturer - DeMorrow Instruments- to showcasing the companies marimbas.  Both artists recorded sound files for the DeMorrow website.  Larissa was honored with the request to record the full version of her adaptation of "O' Shenandoah" on the one-of-a-kind DeMorrow Artist marimba.  This can be heard at http://www.demorrowinstruments.com/the-artist-marimba/

          Throughout her entire professional career, Larissa has battled debilitating chronic pain in both arms. While this has been a life-changing hindrance, she is determined not to let the pain keep her from her devotion to beautiful music, and, most importantly, sharing that beautiful music with other people.  

  

Resume 

   

Performances:

 

Duet with Gordon Stout, Radford University, April 2017

Performer in the Celebrate Marimba! A Tribute to the Muisc of Clair Omar Musser marimba orcherstra, Kutztown PA, November 2015

Virginia Highlands Festival, August 2015

Solo Recital, Independence, VA August 2015

Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk, VA, April 2015

Culpeper Baptist Retirement Community, Culpeper, VA, September 2014

Roanoke Symphony Orchestra's "The Green Room", Roanoke, VA, September 2014

The Glebe, Daleville, VA, February 2014

GloucesterArts on Main, Gloucester,VA, October 2013

New River Community College, Dublin, VA, September 2013

The Lincoln Theater, Marion, VA, September 2013

Price's Fork Elementary School, Blacksburg, VA, March 2013

The Twin Counties Holiday Extravaganza, Galax, VA, December 2012

Highland Camerata, Winter Concert Series, December 2012

 Virginia Highlands Festival, August 2012

Solo Recital, Blacksburg JCC, March 2012

CD Release Concert, Independence, VA, March 2012

Highland Camerata, Winter Concert Series, December 2011

Solo Recital, Virginia Intermont College, November 2011

Tickling the Ivories, Ashe Civic Center, September 2011

Master Class and Solo Recital, Bluefield College, March 2011

Salon, Independence, VA, Feb 2011

Highland Camerata, Winter Concert Series, December 2010

Virginia Highlands Festival, August 2010

 Highland Camerata, Winter Concert Series, December 2009

Solo Recital, Grundy, VA, September 2009

Solo Recital, Independence, VA, November 2008

Virginia Highlands Festival, July 2008

Solo Recital, Grundy, VA, March 2008

 First Night, Galax, VA, December 2006

International Marimba Festival, Linz, Austria, July 2006

 New York State Day of Percussion, Binghampton, NY, February 2006

Premiere of Dancing Horizon, Cornell University, April 2005

Solo Recital, Independence, VA March 2005

 Solo Recital, Independence, VA June 2004

Journees de las Percussion, Paris, France, October 2003

Duet Recital, Ithaca College, April 2002

10 Solo Recitals, Ithaca College, 2001-2007

 

As Soloist With Orchestra:

 Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra by Emmanuel Sejourne,

     Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra Concerto Concert, March 2007

 

Teaching Experience:

Price's Fork Elementary School, March 2013

     -workshop/demonstration

Southwest VA Community College, Jan. 2008 - May 2009

     -Private Percussion Lessons

UVA Wise, Spring Semester 2008

     -Private Percussion Lessons

     -Percussion Techniques for Music Education Majors

     -Music Appreciation

Ithaca College, Fall 2005 - Spring 2007

     -Percussion Techniques for Music Education Majors

Fall Creek Elementary School, April 2007

     -workshop/demonstration

Southwest Virginia, Summers of 2000 and 2001

     -Band camp instructor for multiple area high schools


Recordings:

O Shennedoah for DeMorrow Instruments March 2016

Album Lullabies for Marimba released August 2015

Album Neshamarimba released March 2012

Sincerest Form of Flattery by David Morneau 2009

Laruci in the Sky on Gordon Stout's album Welcome to Stoutland 2014

 

 Marimba Premiers:

Four Dances for Marimba by Gordon Stout, 2007

Dancing Horizon by Chia-Chi Chen, 2005

  Fantasy in Eb by Jack L. Scott, 2000

 

Education:

Ithaca College, Master of Music Percussion, 2007

 Ithaca College, Bachelor of Music, 2004

 Grayson County High School, 2000

 

 Awards:

First place 2007 Ithaca College Concerto Competition

  Pi Kappa Lambda, Music Honor Society

Ithaca College Oracle Society, Academic Honor Society

 

Professional Affiliations:

Percussive Arts Society member, 2000 to current

Board member of the Arts Council of the Twin Counties