Drumsticks and mallets take the spotlight at 7:30 p.m. Monday night, Nov. 19, in the Shaw Family Auditorium with a concert by the Graceland Percussion and Steel Deal Caribbean Pan Ensembles under the direction of Melinda Leoce. A highlight of the performance will be several numbers featuring steel drum artist Dr. Joseph Galvin, Interim Instructor of Percussion at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The concert is free to the public.
The “Music Here and There” concert theme chosen by the students reflects the wide diversity of music styles and cultures of the concert repertoire and the composers represented on the program. Leoce comments that the diversity of the repertoire also reflects the diversity in the ensembles themselves, which draw students from percussion, exercise science, psychology, soccer, and other diverse majors and activities. The evening will feature music from Trinidadian, Japanese, American and Brazilian composers, both male and female, with styles including Caribbean Soul-Calypso, traditional Japanese, Spanish and more.
Dr. Joseph Galvin, cited as one of the finest steel pan performers in the country, will be featured on the pan portion of the program playing three songs with the Graceland groups as well as a solo number. Galvin, a friend of Leoce’s from their studies at Indiana University, is a Grammy-nominated artist and a specialist in Trinidadian and Afro-Cuban culture and music.
According to historian Angela Smith, the pan or steel drum is an instrument of recent invention. In fact, it is cited as the only acoustic instrument created in the 20th century. Musicians from Trinidad and Tobago, the two small islands at the end of the Caribbean chain, began performing rhythms on paint cans, biscuit tins and other metal containers in the early 20th century. When U.S. armed forces left the islands at the end of WWII, the musicians discovered that indentations carefully created on discarded 55-gallon oil drums could produce notes. Over the next 50 years, steel drum construction developed into an artform, and pans increased in both range and quality. In 1991, the steel drum was officially recognized as the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.