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New work for choir and steel band

Pasadena, Texas, USA – San Jacinto College Central music instructors Michael Mizma (steel drum band) and Dr. Paul Busselberg (choral music) are excited about collaborating on a trailblazing music project that will challenge as well as showcase the talents of many of the College’s music students.

The Central campus’ choir and steel drum band will combine forces for the world premier of “In the Shadows of the Forest,” a pioneer work exclusively composed for steel band and choir. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will take place on March 25 at 7 p.m. in Slocomb Auditorium, located at 8060 Spencer Hwy in Pasadena.

The 45-minute steel drum/choral score is composed by Seattle, Washington steel panist Gary Gibson, who recently won Trinidad’s “Symphony & Steel” composition contest, which encouraged new works for orchestra with steel pan ensemble. This is Gibson’s first composition to combine choir with steel band. He will spend a week in residence at San Jacinto Community College to assist in the preparation of the concert.

“It’s a multi-movement composition that is based on Trinidadian folklore,” said Mizma, who will co-direct the performance with Busselberg.

“This is a whole new area of music, there is no precedent or model for it, and our students are really getting excited to have a part in something that is so new,” commented Busselberg. “I think audience members are going to really enjoy this blending of singing and steel band music that presents so many moods and possibilities.”

“There were many challenges in creating this piece, many having to do with the fact that much of Trinidad’s folklore is sort of dark and scary; it was tough to achieve a balance in the overall tone of the work, but I think I managed it. At the end of the day, I think it holds together very well and will educate as well as entertain. The folklore of Trinidad is a very deep well to dig, but the water that comes out of it is very sweet indeed,” said Gibson.

The nine-movement concert will feature a vast array of styles and tempos, some slow and melodic, and some fast and upbeat. There will even be a selection performed in 7/4 meter, which is uncommon and challenging to perform.

Selections for the concert will include:

“Sleep Well” – written in a traditional African style

“Papa Bois” – written in a Brazilian samba style

“Duppies” – an Afro-Cuban cha-cha selection

“Ah Brodder Anansi” – written in an old “swung” calypso style

“La Diablesse” – written in a modern 7/8 style

“She de Soucouyant” – written in Reggae and ska styles

“Douennes” – an a cappella choral piece

“Pan Jumbies” – written in a contemporary calypso style

Finale: “What to Believe” and “Sleep Well” reprise – combines modern calypso, African, and free style steel drum music.

The Central campus’ steel drum band and choir will also perform at the Kemah Pan Jam on March 27 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Pan Jam will be held in the Kemah Lighthouse district, located adjacent to the Kemah Boardwalk.


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