SIUE Steel Returns From Trinidad

Trinidad 2013 written in the sandSIUE Steel recently made a trip to Trinidad to experience the culture that birthed the steel drum. Their visit from January 25 through 31 included visiting much of the small island country, the pan yards during carnival, and playing with the Hatters Steel Orchestra.

“It was amazing for the students to really see everything, they were exposed to a culture that’s very different from our culture,” Daniel Smithiger (Department of Music) stated, “I have to thank Al Romero, Audrey Tallant, and John Bell, they were incredibly instrumental in getting this trip together for us.”

SIUE Steel was founded by Daniel Smitiger in 2010 and is currently the only steel band orchestra in the St. Louis area. The eighteen member group specializes in Calypso and Soca music. Since it’s founding the group has become closely tied to the SIUE Cuban and Caribbean Center and remains a highly visible symbol of the centers outreach efforts.


The invitation to visit Trinidad during Panorama, the world’s largest pan music festival held every year during carnival, was extended by Smithiger’s long time colleague Jeannine Remy. Remy is currently a professor at the University of West Indies (UWI) and the conductor for the Hatters Steel Orchestra. Prior to the trip the two bands began working on a piece of music that they then performed together during the visit.

“I feel like we have a nice relationship now with Jenine Remy and the Hatters orchestra,” Smithiger shared, “we were invited back to work with them again.”

When they weren’t performing the group toured a large portion of Trinidad including: The Port of Spain, San Fernando, Matura bay, and the St. Augustine UWI campus. The group also had the opportunity to observe the steel pan making process and to visit the pan yards of three of the world’s top steel pan orchestras during rehearsal.

“The students keep talking about how great of an impact the trip hand on their lives and on how they all want to go back,” Smithiger shared, “In some ways it was a culmination of the last two or three years but in other was it’s a wonderful stepping stone to the future and that’s the way I’m looking at it.”

Smithiger shared his many hopes for SIUE Steel, chief among them his desire to return to Trinidad and have the band compete in Panorama. Smithiger also hopes to continue to increase the outreach efforts of the group closer to home, performing at more venues in the St. Louis area and helping the band grow in both size and quality. He is also exploring the possibility of bringing Remy and the Hatters to the SIUE Campus for a visit.

SIUE Steel members observing the steel pan making process

St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad

Smithiger at Panorama Semi Finals

Pan builders at work

The Panorama Semi Finals

Panorama Semi Finals


Exodus Panyard

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