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Founded in 1991, the Lancaster Marimba Ensemble was formed as a means to continue the rich tradition of marimba performance in Lancaster County.

The group performs a variety of musical selections ranging in style from opera to vaudeville to classical.  The variety allows the ensemble to showcase the true versatility of the marimba as an instrument.

The long journey of live marimba ensemble performance in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has some significant milestones. The originator of the American marimba ensemble, Clair Omar Musser, was born in Manheim, and his association with childhood friends resulted in many Lancaster County residents participating in the 100 Piece Marimba Orchestra of the 1930s, based in Chicago.

Another marimba band, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania was Reg Kehoe and his Marimba Queens, who toured extensively from 1938 to 1955. Each yearly tour started and ended with a performance at Hershey Park, and concert venues “on the road” included major dance halls throughout the East Coast and Midwest. The ensemble comprised a number of young ladies on marimba, Reg Kehoe himself, and a double bass player. 

Another significant player and teacher, active through the 1940s – 60s, was Opel Petters, who contributed many arrangements of pop songs and hymn arrangements to local players for performance.


After a relatively dry period with little attention to the marimba, the Lancaster Marimba Ensemble was created to revive Lancaster County’s proud tradition of marimba ensemble performance and to re-popularize one of the most ingratiating of acoustic sounds.

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Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research

The Lancaster Marimba Ensemble is pleased to partner with the Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research!  CMPR acts as a living museum, showcasing collections from the rich history of mallet percussion while simultaneously hosting a wide variety of live performances.  LME routinely plays music from Clair Omar Musser and George Hamilton Green, both prominently featured at CMPR with outstanding displays.  Together, LME and CMPR are working to share both the history of mallet percussion and live marimba performances for generations to come!

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