Heartland Marimba

Celebrating classical marimba year-round with communities, artists, and students!

more about hmf


The Heartland Marimba Festival began in 2014 through the vision and leadership of solo artist Matthew Coley. It is an organization that celebrates the marimba, its music, and its performers during an intensive summer festival, a series of winter holiday concerts, and biannual chamber music tours. A multifaceted organization, it offers an in-depth academy for high school and college students and aspiring performers, as well as a summer music workshop for youth ages 4-13 and community adults. It publishes many of the compositions it champions and is actively pursuing the creation of a new market for marimba performance outside of the university. The Heartland Marimba Collective and Quartet, the public faces of the Festival, showcase the talents of students and accomplished professional artists in regional tours throughout various parts of the country. The organization strives to bring the unique music of the marimba to a wider audience and to build more opportunities for the art form and performers.


The HEARTLAND MARIMBA FESTIVAL began in 2014 and is directed by solo marimba artist, Matthew Coley. For a long time Matthew knew that he wanted to start a marimba festival with several components, but waited until he felt that he had a plan for a summer program that would offer a unique experience from the other wonderful festivals already in existence. HMF is not a traditional music festival in that it doesn’t happen once a year for an allotted amount of time, but the word festival is used to signify a reoccurring celebration of the marimba, year-round.

In 2014 HMF started as a mere 6-day summer festival of five events and a workshop at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. It was hugely successful and an inspiration for the vision to continue.

In 2015 Matthew began the Merry Mallets Community Ensemble, the workshop became a 7-day Academy (at ISU again) with five concerts, and the Touring Ensemble (now the Collective) was formed and performed seven events in six cities. In December the Touring Ensemble perform the first Holiday Spectacular tour in three cities in Iowa.

In 2016 the Publications division was added to continue the HMF mission by supporting composers that write for marimba. The Touring Ensemble hit seven cities with eight concerts and the Academy moved out to Southern Utah University in Cedar City, UT for nine days with five concerts and lots of classes and recording! Matthew then performed a solo winter holiday tour of nine events in seven cities in Iowa.

2017 and beyond will continue to see exponential growth of the HMF mission. The Touring Ensemble has become the HMCollective, the HMQuartet and SoundWAYS were launched, and HMF is reaching to goals of visiting 20+ communities for various events each year!

The Heartland Marimba Festival consists of events throughout the year, including fall and spring concerts, weeks of touring in the summer, academy/workshop sessions in the summer, and a touring winter holiday show. HMF seeks to bring the marimba to the widest audience possible throughout the heartland. They present concerts that involve a variety of professional artists and students. The Academy offers a forum for aspiring marimba performers to learn about all depths of navigating a career as a performing artist. Every participant in the Academy works closely with professional and acclaimed artists, guest performers, resident composers and conductors, and a resident recording engineer. All Academy students experience professional recording and editing sessions. Other features of HMF include apprenticeships, composer and performer competitions, and community ensembles.