Young musician shines on the marimba at Grand Rapids Youth Symphony performance

Noah Mallett was one of the featured performers at the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony May concert. The concert will be broadcast on WKTV Saturday.
Noah Mallett was one of the featured performers at the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony May concert. The concert will be broadcast on WKTV Saturday.

Most toddlers, at some point, will bang on pots and pans, but Adriana and Ed Mallett couldn’t help but notice that their son, Noah, seemed to have more of an interest beyond just making noise.


“He would strike the sources with a few wooden spoons,” said Adriana Mallett. “It seemed liked he was really listening as he struck a pan, a lid, then the handle of the lid.


“As he got a little older, he would find different objects around the house that would give him different sounds. By the time he was four, he was setting up cocktail drum kits out of a few stools and cardboard boxes, trying to mimic the shapes that he saw in music magazines, but he knew the sound was not right.”


Finally, at the age of six, Mallett received his own drum set and debuted alongside jazz drummer Bernie Dresel at Tuba Bach Chamber Music Festival. And since then, his star keeps rising. The freshman at Big Rapids’ Crossroads Charter Academy was recently selected as the 2016 Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Skip Gates Concerto Competition winner. With that honor, he was a featured performer at the Youth Symphony’s May concert which will air at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 21, on Comcast Live Wire Channel 24 in Wyoming, Kentwood and the entire Grand Rapids Metro Area and again on Tuesday, May 24, at 9 p.m. and Saturday, May 28, at 10 p.m. on WKTV Comcast 25 and AT&T U-verse 99 in Wyoming and Kentwood.


It won’t be the drums though that you’ll see Mallett perform, rather the marimba, an instrument he became intrigued with a few year ago for its melodic range and versatility. His family was able to borrow a marimba from Ferris State University and this year, a person who believed in his talents purchased a marimba for him as a loan.


Noah Mallett was named the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony's Skip Gates Concerto Competition winner.
Noah Mallett was named the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony’s Skip Gates Concerto Competition winner.

At the May concert, he performed one of the most popular marimba concertos of all time, according to “Percussive Notes,” Ney Rosaura’s Concerto for Marimba, the piece he performed in the Skips Gates Concerto Competition.


“It was suggested to me by one of teachers,” Mallett said for his reason in selecting the piece. Mallett is currently studying with Grand Rapids Symphony percussionist David Hall and Gwendolyn Dease, head of percussion studies at Michigan State University.


“It has a lot of rhythmic drive is very exciting and athletic,” Mallett said, adding that the piece has some memorable themes and melodies that some might recognize. In fact the piece is so athletic that Mallett has been told by some “to watch myself perform it,” he said with a laugh.


The Skips Concerto Competition honor is not the the first for the young musician, who also enjoys composing and arranging music. In fact, one of his compositions was selected to be performed at the Michigan Music Educators Association 2015 Honors Composition Concert.


Mallett is a member of the Con Brio Voce Brass & Percussion Ensemble and the Ferris State University Summer Band, which he has performed several times as a feature soloist. This summer, he continues his studies at North Carolina’s Brevard Music Center Institute.


For more about the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, including its upcoming audition notices and its European summer tour, visit