Global - NYU Steel has been on a steady rise since its inception. The men fueling this upward trajectory are Professor Jonathan Haas and his field general Josh Quillen - the music director of NYU Steel. At the close of the New York University Spring semester When Steel Talks sat down with Professor Haas for an in-depth and retrospective look at the growth and development of NYU Steel - past, present and future.
Professor Haas is a noted trailblazer; he delivered the first timpani-only recital hall concert at Carnegie Hall in 1980 and he indeed proved skeptics and the doubters alike wrong when they said it could not be done.
Enchanted with the sound of the steelpan he heard as child on a family vacation to the Bahamas, the instrument has remained a vital part of his musical experience. So much so that he has made the steelpan family of instruments a mandatory part of the NYU Percussion Program and student experience.
In keeping with that trailblazing spirit, Haas explains as the steelpan relates to his students “There has to be an understanding of harmony or tonal harmony... My idea was that this was really going to fortify their tonal harmony understanding of pitch, of harmony, of melody, and of course of groove and community...”
This Summer a few of NYU Steel’s members joined a Brooklyn contingent of players from the great New York steel orchestra franchises to perform in an international steel orchestra Panorama competition (International Conference and Panorama (ICP)) held in Trinidad and Tobago. The group—known as Brooklyn Steel Orchestra (BSO)—placed fourth - the highest placement for a foreign steel orchestra out of a field of twenty-four steel orchestras overall. An outstanding accomplishment. As they say ‘the proof is in the results’.
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