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Percussion Professor Becomes First American to Create Signature Mallets

Dr. Lynn Vartan, director of percussion at Southern Utah University, is the first American percussionist to design and launch her own signature line of marimba mallets for Marimba One. Vartan is a world-renowned percussionist, performer and tenured professor at SUU since July 2008.

As an endorsed artist for Marimba One, Vartan has been a long-time representative of the musically innovative company. According its website, “Marimba One artisans continue to work with musicians worldwide to create the finest concert marimbas and professional mallets that can be made. Marimba One is grounded in the belief that each and every marimba should be custom designed and handmade for each musician: an instrument of art.”

When Marimba One approached Vartan to create her own series of mallets, she was thrilled. “I am fortunate that my career as an educator and performer has gotten to the point where I can really have a say as an artist,” said Vartan. “Marimba One saw my talent and knew that I have a unique and important voice needed in the industry.”

Music has inspired Vartan from an early age and she was able to find “great variety in the percussion family of instruments, exploring new sounds and new directions in presenting music that she loved.” Eventually that passion would take over and become her inspiration in life, personally and professionally.

The premise of her Lynn Vartan Artist Series Mallets revolves around a “just right” fit ideal for any grip, piece, ensemble or venue. The mallets are durable and warm sounding and designed to give clarity, articulation and depth in any setting.

The Lynn Vartan Artist Series has four types of mallets (soft, medium, hard and a vibraphone mallet) and each one is offered with two types of stick: birch and rattan. Marimba One plans, for the first time, a “graduated set” of one soft, two mediums and a hard mallet.

“This mallet is going to last a long time no matter what you play or where you play,” said Vartan. “It’s going to feel great in your hand.”

Vartan is known for her dynamic athleticism and exciting energy on stage. She has been featured as a soloist on the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella Series, the Different Trains Series, at universities in residence all over the United States and on the Music at the Court series in Pasadena, California, where she produced her own solo percussion concerts.

Vartan was encouraged to embrace the opportunity to design a signature line of mallets by her colleagues and administrators at SUU. The University recognizes the importance of employing faculty members who work professionally in their field as it enhances the classroom experience for the students.

Shauna Mendini, dean of the college of performing and visual arts at SUU said, “It is important that professors model the standard of the profession for their students. Dr. Vartan is a professional at the highest level.”

Vartan is thankful for the support from SUU that has allowed her to thrive as an artist and educator.

“If I’m inspired as an artist, I’m inspired as a teacher.”

Throughout the creative process Vartan has included her students, asking them to test prototypes. The process took more than two years to develop the combination of materials and sound.

Jordan Nielsen, a junior and music performance major from Price, Utah, started using the signature mallets in his own personal practice. He said he likes using the mallets because of the contrast in the sound of each.

“The mallets have such a large sound projection and they are not heavy, which is a wonder in the world of mallets,” he said. “I love that I can get gorgeous, ballad-like tone, and harsh violent attacks out of the same mallet.”

For her part, Vartan appreciates the enthusiastic response to her creations and is thrilled to offer them to the public.

“I love playing with the mallets and I am going to love sharing them with people,” she said.

As a concerto soloist she has performed with various orchestras including the Hubei Opera and Dance Company of Wuhan, China, the Sierra Wind Symphony, the Helena Symphony, The Orchestra of Southern Utah, and Southwest Chamber Music,  as well as premiering new concertos by both American and Chinese composers. She has participated in cultural exchange projects such as the “Ascending Dragon” project in Vietnam, “The Dream of Helen” project in China and the “East Meets West” project designed around her work as a soloist in Wuhan, China in the spring of 2014.

As a recording artist, Vartan has appeared on the ECM New Series, Albany Records, Cuneiforms Records, Bridge Records, New World Records, Lian Records, Yarlung Records and Cambria. She was three times Grammy-nominated on the Cambria label with Southwest Chamber Music in the “Best Classical Album of the Year” and “Best Small Ensemble with or without a conductor” for The Complete Chamber Music of Carlos Chavez, Volume III and the for “Latin Classical Album of the Year” for William Kraft’s Complete Encounters Series.


Vartan is launching her signature line at the Heartland Marimba Festival held in Cedar City from June 3 through June 14. The mallets are available for purchase exclusively from Steve Weiss Music - http://www.steveweissmusic.com


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