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America

Published on March 21st, 2015 | by NIU Today

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NIU Steelband plans busy spring of energizing audiences

The NIU Steelband often conjures up fast-paced rhythmic songs that make the audience want to dance. “While what we do is extremely demanding and requires a great deal of discipline, dedication and practice, we also encourage an atmosphere of fun,” said Liam Teague, co-director of the ban with Cliff Alexis. “So it is quite common to see our members and audiences smiling and dancing and having a great time. We stimulate the intellect and emotion.”

The steelpan is often viewed as a novelty instrument associated with Caribbean music. But the NIU Steelband proves that it is much more than that since they play all kinds of music, including pop, blues, classical and calypso. “In truth, the pan, the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, is one of the most unique and versatile instruments in the world,” said Teague, a native of the twin-island nation. “As a result, the repertoire possibilities are almost infinite and our concerts are quite eclectic.”

The NIU Steelband is adding a twist to its concert Sunday, April 26, by collaborating with the NIU Wind Ensemble. The groups will play Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter” and Teague will play the concerto “Origins and Expansion,” written by Kevin Bobo for steelpan and wind ensembles. The free concert will begin at 3 p.m. at the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall inside the Music Building. On a broader scale, Teague was asked to write music for the Pastiche Steel Ensemble, an NIU alumni band, so the group can play it at the first International Conference and Panorama in August in Trinidad. Pastiche will play Teague’s composition, “Bella Vista,” in a live performance in sync with video recordings of players around the world to create a virtual band.

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