Monday, February 19, 2007

The End of Steel Band Week

A photo from Small Town Newspaper's morning edition (as if there were an evening edition). My child is in the upper right hand corner behind the bass mallet.

So, Pantasia was last night's event, and it was a delight as it is every year. The auditorium was full to the brim with family and friends of the 30-plus band members and alumni. College kids travel home in all kinds of weather for this concert, and they stand around in their old high school lobby reminiscing about their days in this incredible and unique band.

The kids played very well--they have some staple numbers they perform every concert, and they learn new numbers with the help of Pan Ramajay during the 3-day clinic. This year, they were also joined by the steel band from New York University in Manhattan who is conducted by an alumnus. This group performed music with their own set of drums that I swear did not sound like mallet hitting pounded steel. They performed a piano etude, and if you closed your eyes, you might believe you were hearing hammers hitting strings.

One of the high school band's staples is Amazing Grace--in pockets of Ohio, public school kids can still perform sacred pieces. It was written in 1772 by John Newton, a slave ship master who converted to Christianity and left the trade, becoming an Anglican minister and abolitionist. At first glance, you might think this an odd choice for a steel band arrangement, but when you consider the song's history and how it has touched so many people through generations and across social divides, it fits.

Yea, when this heart and flesh shall fail
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When the group performed this piece, because they were so many in number and spread across the stage, they lost track of each other and half the group wasn't quite with the cowbell. The concert was being recorded, so at the end of the concert, they performed it again under closer supervision, and it was lovely. Nice to hear it twice.

Of course, I will tell you the highlight was the 16-year-old girl standing in the front row.
Well, it's time to move on to something else. Considering the mounds of snow I see outside my window and the inhuman temperatures outside my front door, I'd suggest Maui.


Sassy Sundry said...

Sweet! Way to go daughter! That looks like a great time.

dive said...

So good to see Daughter Number 2 getting in on the act, Robyn.
Amazing Grace is a glorious song; one I often find myself singing. But then a wretch like me needs saving …
That whole concert looks just way too much fun. So glad you enjoyed it.

RICH said...

Yea, when this heart and flesh shall fail
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

I like this!!

I can feel all the energy as I was reading this post Robyn. So much energy to be had within the amazing beauty called music.
aahhh Amen :)

Rich said...

lets sign these kids up with a drum corps for this Summer. They would do a great job in the percussion pit.