Zither in New Jersey

During the week of April 25, 2011, Dr. William Kolb and his student, Gina Gerbasio, performed a series of zither concerts at three Senior Citizen Centers in Bergen County, New Jersey. Performances were held at the Palisades Park Center under the direction of Ms. Mary Kim, at the Cliffside Park Center under the direction of Ms. Linda Phillips-Perez and at the Wallington Center under the direction of Ms. Celia McLean / Ms. Agatha Stasoulakis

This intergenerational zither duo played a number of duets ranging from old Tyrolian folk tunes to modern pieces written especially for the zither and even several Lieder (songs) from such well-known composers as Johannes Brahms and Franz Schubert. At every center, the audience was enthralled by the beautiful sound of this instrument, which is relatively unknown in the US. It is estimated that there are approximately 150 zither players in this country of 330 Million people. Dr. Kolb pointed out that since the number of players is so small, the zither community is a relatively closeknit group. There are only a handful of people studying the zither, and most of these folks are in their 40s and 50s. As far as Dr. Kolb has been able to ascertain, Gina, at 13, is the only youngster in the entire country studying this great sounding instrument!

At every center the audience requested the duo play encores and after every performance the audiences asked numerous questions. Gina explained how the Concert Zither is unique from all the other types of zithers that exist around the world. She explained that of all the zithers, only the Concert Zither has a fingerboard to play the melody, as well as a series of free-standing strings that are used to play accompaniment and bass and contrabass.

Dr. Kolb explained that the difficulty of learning the zither, which some claim is one of the most difficult instruments to learn, lies in the fact that the zither player must perform three and sometimes four different operations with the fingers of the right hand. The player must do different things with different timings independently and simultaneously. He pointed out that learning is a challenge, but with the unique learning method he has developed, the student quickly learns to master this without great difficulty.

Dr. Kolb, whose stage name is “Doctor Zither”, invited the audience to visit his website,  www.doctorzither.com and learn more about the Concert Zither, and hear some great zither music (Some of the songs performed can be seen and heard on YouTube. Just go to www.youtube.com and enter “Gina Zither”.)