Ouachita Baptist University will host the Tiger Steel Drum Ensemble’s inaugural concert Tuesday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Mabee Fine Art Center’s McBeth Recital Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.
Tiger Steel is “something unique and enjoyable for the Ouachita and Arkadelphia communities,” said Dr. Ryan Lewis, assistant professor of music and director of Tiger Steel. “Steel drums are the national folk music instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, where many traditionally learn and perform by rote.”
Lewis directed the Steel Drum Band at Florida State University and wanted to create a group at Ouachita. With the support of Dr. Wesley Kluck, vice president for student services, he formed the group in partnership with the Clark County Boys and Girls Club.
Arkadelphia is home to two steel bands, one at Ouachita and the other at Goza Middle School, directed by Aaron Seel. “In order to be a member of Tiger Steel, students mentor at least one hour per week at the Boys and Girls Club where they can help the other steel band members with their parts, play sports, help with homework, play video games, whatever the students need that day,” Lewis said.
Tiger Steel isn’t comprised solely of music majors. “Of the 13 current members, fewer than half are music majors,” Lewis noted. Members include: Erin Cheshire, Chris Hogan, Cory Thackston and John David Whitmore on tenor pan; Leslie Colbert, Carter Harlan, Kristen Liles and Natalie Williams on double seconds; Ian Olmsted, Cody Osborn, Ben Lange-Smith and Sara Williams on guitars and cello; and Tori Clark on bass pans. Olmsted and Osborn also perform on drum set.
The program will include “Jamaican Farewell” and “Jump in the Line (Shake, Shake, Shake Sonora)” by Harry Belafonte; the traditional calypso tune “Marianne”; “Under the Sea” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid; “Oye Como Va” by Carlos Santana; “Watermelon Man” by Herbie Hancock featuring guest soloists Dr. Craig Hamilton, OBU’s Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music and director of bands, on trumpet and Dr. Sim Flora, professor emeritus of music, on trombone, professor emeritus of music; and a funk tune, “Sunset.”
“Audience members will hear familiar songs with infectious beats that make them smile,” Lewis said. “And if Steel Band music can do nothing else, it can bring joy to others.”
Tiger Steel also will perform a joint concert with the Boys and Girls Club Steel Band in Ouachita’s Jones Performing Arts Center on May 2 at 7 p.m. Auditions for the fall will be held Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 11 a.m. and will consist of simple rhythms and melodies. No music reading or experience is required.
For more information on the Tiger Steel or to book the group for an event, contact Dr. Ryan Lewis at email@example.com or (870) 245-5421.
By Ryleigh Salmon