Illinois, USA - It was not too long ago that WST would request embed codes to live steelband music streams from universities, other performances - and we were met with resistance or the proverbial “What’s that?” Times have changed. We no longer have to ask for embed codes for live streaming broadcasts of steel orchestras - they are shared with or offered to us by the performers without asking, or YouTube or Facebook provides them. And folks realise these are not guarded ‘state secrets.’
NIU (Northern Illinois University) was one of the first programs that was progressive and forward-thinking enough to provide access to their stream embed codes to allowed a shared broadcast of their concerts on WST’s platforms. And as a result the WST global audience have become accustomed to seeing and experiencing great performances from NIU steelbands and featured guest artists over the years.
The stage was the same. The colors remain the same. Red and black attire. Chrome or red pans. But the faces have changed over the years. Seion Gomez, Mia Gormandy, Yuko Asada, Yuki Nakano, Cassie Marie Bradley, Kris Murell, Josanne Francis, Barry Mannette, Carla Robinson, Khan Cordice, and now Zahra Lake, Alfonso Charlton, and Daron Roberts among many others - will add to that litany of great musicians who have graced the NIU steelband line-up. Moreover, these are the names of people who potentially will have, and are already having - a great global impact on the steelband music artform now and in the future. The thread, the constant all through the years can be traced mainly through two individuals. So like proud parents, those two—director Liam Teague and NIU Steelband co-founder, Clifford Alexis—can watch the legacy that they have launched.
It was over ten years ago that WST met and saw the very young and superbly talented teens Khan Cordice and Zahra Lake of Antigua & Barbuda. It is hardly surprising that they would be members of the NIU alumni and already achieving greatness. Both Antigua & Barbuda national Panorama champions. The strength of any program or organization can only accurately be measured with the passing of time and a monitoring of the achievements and successes of those who have passed through its doors. And in this regard the impact of the NIU grads is substantial.
Again, this year’s 2018 fall concert provides a look at what makes the NIU program so victorious - as they performed to rounds of applause, a wide variety of genres which showcased the versatility of the NIU students’ skill set and musicianship from amateur to professional - community to college. Unlike the early years of the program, Teague and Alexis have shifted some of the “heavy lifting” (while maintaining quality and excellence) relative to the overall administration and production of the concerts - to the program’s talented students. The latter admirably demonstrate beyond their formidable music talents - their ability to inspire, educate and lead.
Take a listen for yourself.
NIU Steelband & Steel Pan Studio; Liam Teague, director and assisted by Yuko Asada
All-University Steelband; Alfonso Charlton, Zahra Lake, and Daron Roberts, directors
CSA Steelband; Yuko Asada, director
Saaj Sammelan by Dr. Jit Samaroo
Me Bop (Can’t Stop) by Gary Gibson
Crying by Len “Boogsie” Sharpe
Upside Down Jack Johnson arr. Todd Donnelly
Smile by Charlie Chaplin, arr. Yuko Asada
Let’s Groove by Maurice White/Wayne Vaughn, arr. Yuko Asada
Havana by Camila Cabello, arr. Liam Teague
Winelight by Grover Washington, Jr., arr. Zahra Lake
Lightning Flash by Ultimate Rejects, arr. Liam Teague
Overture to La scala di seta by Gioacchino Rossini, adap. Liam Teague
The Water is Wide-American Folk Song, arr. Zahra Lake
El Rio (The River) by Liam Teague, arr. Faye Seeman
Pan By Storm by Ken “Professor” Philmore
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