For one week in July, Morgantown will become the center of the steel drum universe as it hosts nearly one hundred performers, music educators, students and steel drum enthusiasts from around the world for Ellie Mannettes 12 th annualFestival of Steelworkshop.

Dr. Mannette is regarded as theFather of the Modern Steel Drum Instrumentand is currently an Artist in Residence at West Virginia University and CEO of Mannette Steel Drums.

This years Festival runs July 4-10 at the Radisson Hotel on the Waterfront in Morgantown. The public is invited to experience the education, culture and performance of the last family of musical instruments created in the last 150 yearsthe steel drums.

Special to this years festival is a kick-off performance by Robert Greenidge (famed pannist for Jimmy Buffet), co-sponsored by the city of Morgantowns Red, White and Boom 4 th of July Celebration. The program begins at 8:30 p.m. at the Hazel Ruby McQuain outdoor amphitheatre. Greenidge also will be the featured performer at the citys fireworks event.

Unique to this years festival is the historic unveiling of Mannettes latest addition to the family of steel drum instrumentsan 85-gallon soprano steel drum. According to Mannette, thissuper-sizedlead has the widest range of any individual existing instrument in the steel drum family and could develop into the quintessential solo instrument for a steel drum performer.

The week will be filled with a wide variety of activities, including master classes and performances. Additionally, the festival banquet will include the premiere of a documentary about the life and work of Ellie Mannette, entitledThe Stradivarius of Steel: The Ellie Mannette Story.The movie was produced by Desiree Sampson, an independent videographer from Trinidad and Tobago, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Ohio University School of Film. Sampson will be a special guest of the festival during the week, where she will continue to document Mannettes life.

The documentary will also be shown during a fund-raiser for Dorseys Knob sponsored by Morgantown BOPARC .

Ticketed performances during the week include the faculty showcase Thursday, July 8, and the grand finale Saturday, July 10, both at the Radisson Hotel.

The faculty showcase is a chance for the festivals visiting facultyRay Holman, Jeff Narell, Tom Miller, Alan Lightner and Jim Munzenriderto present an evening of their original music for the steel drum. This night will also include the historic unveiling of Mannettes latest addition to the steel-drum family.

The grand finale on July 10 promises to be an amazing event where the Festival of Steel participants, under the direction of the masters of the steel drum, will showcase what they have learned during a week of intensive steel band training.

A special program book commemorating the unveiling of Mannettes latest instrument is included in the ticket price of both of these concerts. Also, both concerts will offer VIP ticketing that will include access to the backstage area where patrons will have the opportunity to meet and get an autographed poster from Mannette.

Tickets for general admission are $20 (17.50 for seniors and students) when purchased in advance, $27.50 at the door and VIP tickets are $40 (47.50 at the door). Tickets are available through,http://www.ticketweb.comkeywordMannette,or by calling 866-468-7630 ($1.50 charge applies).