The 14th annual Festival of Steel, a weeklong celebration of the steel drum art form, is under way and will continue through Saturday, July 15, in Morgantown.
Ellie Mannette, designer of the modern steel drum and WVU artist-in residence, and his company, Mannette Steel Drums, are putting on the festival.
The festival kicked off Sunday, July 9, with the Faculty Showcase Concert at the Metropolitan Theatre in downtown Morgantown. The concert featured one of the art forms greatest performers and tuners, EmmanualJackRiley.
More than 150 participants are traveling from across the United States and include musicians, music educators and steel band enthusiasts from ages 8 to 80.
This years instructors represent some of steel bands most luminary performers and arrangers. They include world-renowned jazz artist Andy Narell; his brother, Jeff Narell, a well-respected recording artist in his own right; and the pan jazz ensemble Pan Ramajay, featuring Tom Miller, Alan Lightner and Jim Munzenrider.
A special part of this years celebration is the commemoration of the steel drums Diamond Jubilee (1946-2006). Mannette crafted the first steel drum instrument from a 55-gallon container in Trinidad, ushering in the modern era of the art form.
The festival will celebrate this 60th anniversary with an exhibit at the Monongalia Arts Center through July 29, surprise guests and special programming coordinated by the Mannette Foundations executive director, Kaethe George. The Mannette Foundation preserves, promotes, researches and documents the legacy of the steel drum art form.
Area residents will also have an opportunity to learn how to play the steel drum during community workshops. Classes will be offered the evenings of Tuesday, July 11, and Thursday, July 13,and enrollment is limited.
The festival closes Saturday with the finale concert, which will spotlight all the workshop participants in a grand performance. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the WVU Mountainlair Ballrooms. Tickets for that event are $5.
The Festival of Steel has grown steadily over the past 14 years, as several businesses, organizations and city leaders have come together to ensure that this event remains one of the most comprehensive workshops of its kind available in the world.
Mannette Steel Drums, the festivals main sponsor, was founded by Mannette and George six years ago in partnership with WVU s Research Corp.; Chanler Bailey is president of the company. Mannette is also an artist-in-residence in the WVU College of Creative Arts, and a significant number of the steel band instruments used for the festival will come from the WVU Creative Arts Center.
Additionally, the city of Morgantown, the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau and Main Street Morgantown have helped support the event.
Tickets are available at Mannette Steel Drums, Fawley Music Co. Inc., Kleebs Music Center, Monongalia Arts Center, Morgantown Theatre Company, Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners and BiLo Foods.
For more information about tickets and the community class, call 304-296-6405 or 866-237-DRUM or e-mail email@example.com .