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Northern Illinois (NIU) Spring World Steel Band Concert a Huge Success

Lester Trilla honored for extraordinary contributions to steelpan students and program
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NIU Steelband
Northern Illinois University (NIU) Steelband on stage during their Spring 2010 concert

DeKalb, Illinois - From Tchaikovsky to Stevie Wonder - the NIU Steelband Concert did not miss a beat. Under the leadership and direction of renowned steel panist and associate professor Liam Teague, and co-directed by Clifford Alexis, the NIU Steelband executed a wide and varied set that showcased the excellent musicianship of the NIU ensemble.

The concert was a huge success both in term of musical performances and technological outreach.  The feedback on the When Steel Talks (WST) network which also carried the web broadcast live, was extremely positive.  Many steelpan music fans and people in the music industry watched the show from all over the world.

Indeed, one WST network viewer was so impressed with the NIU steelband performance that she commented that her son now wants to attend NIU.

Appropriately named the “Spring World Concert” the event was web-casted live and free around the world in HD.  NIU has been one of the leading music institutions in having their musical performances broadcast over the internet in high definition.

The two-hour concert was held in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall on the NIU campus. The event was superbly aired without any visible hitches and/or distractions.  The live video switching and camera angles were quite adequate.

This year’s Spring concert was particularly special as tribute was paid to Lester Trilla.  Mr. Trilla is credited as one of the people directly responsible for the existence of the NIU Steelband.  In addition, Mr. Trilla is directly responsible for many of the NIU steelband music students - including Liam Teague - being able to achieve their educational dreams at the university.  Mr. Trilla was clearly moved by the tribute.

Mia Gormandy on the P.H.I.
Mia Gormandy plays the P.H.I. (Percussive Harmonic Instrument) during the NIU Steelband concert

Also on hand was the president of Pan Trinbago, Keith Diaz. Mr. Diaz expressed his appreciation the work NIU had done over the years in furthering the popularity of the steelpan instrument. He was particularly appreciative of the impact NIU was having in producing Trinidad and Tobago graduates like Seion Gomez, Mia Gormandy and Liam Teague.

The second half of the concert highlighted a special tribute to Michael Jackson with a Liam Teague arrangement of “Heal the World.”  Mr. Teague said he chose this song to honor Mr. Jackson’s memory, because  of its message of togetherness  and beauty, much the same as that of the steelpan instrument.  This arrangement also featured Mia Gormandy playing the PHI (Percussive Harmonic Instrument).

Acclaimed violinist and assistant professor at NIU Blaise Magniere accompanies the NIU Steelband
Acclaimed violinist and assistant professor at NIU Blaise Magniere accompanies the NIU Steelband

A joint classical arrangement lead by conductor Kenneth Joseph and featuring guest violinist, the highly acclaimed chamber musician Blaise Magniere, received high accolades. Magniere performed Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Also on hand was NIU alumni Seion Gomez who joined the band on stage, as they performed his arrangement of “Dangerous” written by Mark Loquan and Ken “Professor” Philmore; the performance received rousing applause.

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The show ended with a special collaboration on Destra Garcia’s “Rewind” that featured a brass section in tandem with the steel orchestra.  The ending performance brought the crowd to its feet with a standing ovation.

The NIU Steel Band educational program has successfully put the steelpan instrument on the world stage as no other institution of higher learning has done.

Mr. Teague announced the dates for next year’s performance which are already set.  And additionally, that he added that a steelband from Ohio’s University of Miami would be performing at the NIU concert next year.

Contact: Liam Teague at: http://whensteeltalks.ning.com/profile/LiamTeague

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