The NIU Steel Band is directed by Liam Teague (Head of Steelpan Studies/Associate Professor of Music) and Clifford Alexis (composer, arranger, tuner and builder). Created in 1973 by G. Allan O'Connor, it was the first active steel band formed in an American university and has performed throughout the United States and around the world. NIU is one of the few institutions in the world at which students may pursue music degrees (undergraduate and graduate) with the steelpan as the major instrument of choice.
Over the years, the NIU Steel Band has broadened the repertoire and performance for the steelpan; highlights include a performance for 18,000 soccer fans in Yankee Stadium, two successful tours of Taiwan in 1992 and 1998, concerts with symphony orchestras (including the St. Louis Symphony and the Chicago Sinfonietta), and performances at several Percussive Arts Society International Conventions (PASIC). In 2000 the NIU Steelband had the distinction of placing 2nd in the World Steelband Festival in Trinidad, and in 2002 performed several concerts (including the opening) at the Seoul Drum Festival in South Korea.
NIU Steel Band is a 35-member group and mainly comprises steelpan and percussion majors. The band performs regularly at public schools, colleges and universities, as well as conventions and arts series. The band has three recordings to its credit; including the most recent, "Festival of Voices", a live concert featuring an eclectic blend of styles.
In addition to the NIU Steel Band, our program includes two other ensembles: the All-University Steel Band, a group open to any NIU student regardless of major or previous experience on pan, and the Steelpan Studio, which comprises Steelpan majors exclusively. Since the introduction of the steel band at NIU, many institutions of higher learning in the United States have formed their own ensembles.