NIU Steelband to perform memorial concert

By Chris Plumery

DeKALB – NIU’s Steelband will perform Nov. 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Music Building inside Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. 

The Steelband is a 35-member group and consists of steelpan and percussion majors. The band performs at public schools, colleges and universities, as well as conventions and arts series according to Steelband’s webpage.

Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students. Concerts are free for NIU music majors according to the School of Music website. Tickets can be purchased at the door or through Ticket Portal.

The Steelband will be collaborating with All-University Steelband, Steelpan Studio and Community School for the Arts Steelband. The ensemble has performed throughout the United States and across the globe. They performed for 18,000 soccer fans at Yankee Stadium, according to the Steelband’s webpage.

The director of NIU’s Steelband Liam Teague also has traveled around the world.  “I started receiving invitations to perform abroad as a teenager and have enjoyed being able to demonstrate the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, the steelpan, across the globe in various musical contexts,” Teague said. 

The concert will be dedicated to the late G. Allan O’Connor, according to the NIU events calendar. O’Connor was the founder of NIU Steelband in 1973 and passed away in June 2019. 

O’Connor retired in 2002 and served as Associate Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts from 1989 to 2000, according to Door County Pulse.

According to the Steelband’s webpage, he created the first active steelband formed at an American University. The steelband’s long tradition at NIU lead the university to becoming one of the few institutions in the world to allow students to pursue undergraduate and graduate music degrees with the steelpan as the major instrument of choice, according to the group’s website.

The NIU Steelband demonstrates versatility and profundity of the steelpan. The steelpan is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, according to the Steelband’s webpage. 

The band has four recordings to its credit; including the most recent, “Dangerous,” featuring an eclectic blend of style. “The program will be an eclectic mix of music — calypso, pop and classical — and will also feature a number of arrangements which O’Connor created,” Liam Teague, director of the Steelband and Steelpan Studio, said.