“From the bellows of Guzzetta Hall, the relaxing, Caribbean sounds of mallets hitting steel can be heard playing by the University of Akron Steel Drum Band. On Saturday, the group will play its 30th anniversary concert this Saturday at E.J. Thomas Hall. For a fresh different experience students could go the concert on Saturday at 8 pm.””
From the bellows of Guzzetta Hall, the relaxing, Caribbean sounds of mallets hitting steel can be heard playing by the University of Akron Steel Drum Band. On Saturday, the group will play its 30th anniversary concert this Saturday at E.J. Thomas Hall. For a fresh different experience students could go the concert on Saturday at 8 pm.It might be something nice to take your mind of stuff at the end of the year, said Matthew Dudack, Percussionist and Educator with the band.The band will be playing a mix of many different kinds of music from Baroque, Pop, Motown, Classic Calypso and Panorama. As they practiced, Michael Jackson echoed in the sounds of pan drums down the hallway. The group will be playing two Michael Jackson songs, Will you be there? and Don’t stop ’till you get enough as well as Can’t get next to you by The Temptations. The concert is more than an ensemble, however; a documentary will be filmed, a CD will be recorded and a special will be filmed for PBS. The PBS documentary will be shown in the area of the Western Reserve on PBS channels. It will potentially be shown nationwide to an audience of more than a million viewers. Several of the students who are members of the band and will participate in the concert are freshman who nine months ago had never touched a pan drum before. Blaine Klein and Jonathan Monacelli, both freshman percussion majors within the music program, came into the program in September. The duo played percussion previously in high school, but the transition to pans was different. The hardest part was learning all the drums, every drum is different, said Klein. The big change was learning the different layout, said senior Robert Parker a percussion performance and composition major. All of the notes are in a circle of 5ths.The University of Akron Steel Drum Band is a world renowned group and you must be percussion major to join. At other schools, some of the groups are open to any major and any one can take it as a class. The group is dedicated to showing the heritage of steel drums which originated in Trinidad. Bands around the country have connections to the University of Akron Steel drum band. Matthew Dudack, a percussionist and educator with the band, said his teacher at the University of Hartford introduced him to the steel drum. His teacher in college played at the University of Akron as a student. The steel drum is a 55 gallon oil drum, pounded to certain frequencies, but a steel drum is more than a barrel that is banged on withsticks. A player of the instrument can play more than only rhythms. Whole songs can be played with complex rhythms and there are more than one drum. A lead pan has one drum and the amount of drums continues all the way up to a bass pan, which has six drums. As the number of drums increases the notes get deeper. The band was started in 1980 by head of the Percussion Program, Professor Larry Snider. The band was one of the first collegiate steel drum bands in the country. It was only the third program of its kind in the nation behind the University of Illinois and Northern Illinois. High schools are now starting to have programs. Finley High School has a program called Pantesia. Tickets for the event are $18 for reserved seating, and $9 for student admission with Zip Cards.