SIUE Steel Sets Out for Trinidad

SIUE Steel Performing at annual CAS BreakfastThis Friday SIUE Steel will take a trip the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The group will be visiting during the annual “Panorama” festival in which steel bands from around the world come together to share and compete during the lead up to Carnival.

SIUE Steel was founded in 2010 by Daniel Smitiger (Department of Music). The group consist currently of eighteen members (students, staff, and alumni) specializing in Calypso and Soca style music. The band is the only steel band in the St. Louis area and was founded in part because Smithiger saw a gap and in part because of his love of the music.

“My vision is to get us out into the area,” Smithiger shared, “It takes time and persistance.”

Smithiger grew up in Arizona where he also attended both undergraduate and graduate school. During his residency at the University of Arizona he ran three steel bands. His long term goals for SIUE Steel include a number of community outreach efforts both in the form of performances and learning workshops.

“The steel band is a great learning model because people with different musical strengths and abilities can play it,” explained Smithiger, “It’s not a hard instrument to start, but it’s difficult to refine.”

The invitation to attend Panorama came from Smithiger’s colleague Jeannine Remy, a steel band instructor at the University of the West Indies. SIUE Steel will has been practicing a piece of music since late fall that they will perform with Remy’s band.

Trinidad is the birthplace of both Calypso and the steel drum. During their visit the group will be taking the opportunity to observe and work with local steel bands and composers while getting hands on experience different learning methods.

“We will be experiencing learning by ear while in Trinidad because that is more traditional and we’ll need to work with the local groups,” Smithiger explained.

During their visit Smithiger and the other band members will be uploading photos and commentary on their experiences via the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences facebook page.  

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