Nancy Zeltsman's life is currently divided between teaching, performing, and long-range educational and artistic pursuits - all centered on the marimba. She has taught at The Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music since 1993 in positions that were created for her. Since 2005, she has served as Chair of the Percussion Department at TBC. She teaches marimba (exclusively) to approximately 30 students (marimba and percussion majors) between both schools. She resides in Boston, Massachusetts.
Nancy Zeltsman is the founder and Artistic Director of Zeltsman Marimba Festival, Inc., an annual two-week summer event held in varying locations. It encompasses a training seminar for about 35 marimbists. The faculty members are featured in a series of concerts open to the public.
For more than 20 years, Nancy Zeltsman has been a major force in expanding the repertoire for solo marimba and marimba within chamber music. Marimolin, a marimba/violin duo with Sharan Leventhal (1985-1996), premiered nearly 80 pieces, raised over $68,000 to commission new works, and sponsored an international composition contest for eight years (which collectively attracted nearly 200 entries from around the world).
Numerous marimba solos have been composed for (and/or dedicated to) Nancy Zeltsman, including works by Louis Andriessen, David Friedman, Paul Lansky, Steven Mackey and Gunther Schuller. Robert Aldridge, Geoffrey Keezer and Michael Tilson Thomas have composed additional chamber works for her. MTT's Island Music, a 30-minute landmark work, was composed for Nancy Zeltsman and Jack Van Geem on marimbas with four supporting percussionists. The work has been performed many times including twice at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, and on subscription concerts of the San Francisco Symphony in January 2005. In the same month, Zeltsman premiered William Thomas McKinley's marimba concerto Childhood Memories with Boston Modern Orchestra Project conducted by Gil Rose.
Nancy Zeltsman has presented numerous marimba recitals and master classes across the United States as well as in Europe, Japan and Mexico. In August 2006, she was a featured performer and teacher at the Fukui (Japan) Marimba Seminar-Summer Master Course. She performed and taught at Il Curso Internacional de Percusión in the Galician region of Spain in August 2003, 2004 and 2005. She also traveled in those years to Alcoy (Spain), Amsterdam, Stockholm, Linz, Geneva, Lyon and to Paris where she also served as a judge for the International Competition for Students. She was a member of the jury of the first Belgium International Marimba Competition (August 2001), and was one of twelve international players featured at The World Marimba Festival in Osaka, Japan (August 1998).
Nancy Zeltsman is featured on seven compact disc recordings. With Marimolin, she recorded three CDs. The first, Marimolin (1988), received much acclaim including a "Perfect 10/10" rating (for performance/sound quality - CD Review magazine, March 1990). The others were Phantasmata (1995, GM Recordings) and Combo Platter (1994, Catalyst/BMG). Nancy has recorded three solo marimba CDs: Woodcuts (1993, GM Recordings), See Ya Thursday (1998) and Sweet Song (2005); and a duo marimba CD with Jack Van Geem, Pedro and Olga Learn to Dance (2004).
Nancy Zeltsman's comprehensive marimba method, Four Mallet Marimba Playing: A Musical Approach for All Levels, is published by Hal Leonard Corporation (now in its second edition). Nancy proudly endorses Marimba One marimbas and the "Nancy Zeltsman Series" of Encore Mallets.
Nancy Zeltsman was born in 1958 in Morristown, New Jersey and grew up in nearby Parsippany. Her father and mother were portrait/nature photographers who owned and ran a portrait studio. She studied piano from the age of five and took up percussion at age thirteen. Important teachers during her teens included Robert Ayers (percussion), Donald Marrs (her high school band director), and Ian Finkel (xylophone, marimba, vibraphone).
In 1976, Nancy Zeltsman went on to study (percussion) with Vic Firth at New England Conservatory of Music. Following her sophomore year (1978), she spent the summer as a percussion fellow at Tanglewood. Nancy took a year off (to live in New York City), and returned to NEC complete her Bachelor of Music degree in percussion performance (1982). She also studied with William Thomas McKinley (composition) and Dave Samuels (jazz improvisation). Since 1982, Nancy has played marimba exclusively.