World-renowned steel drum pioneer Ellie Mannette will be honored during West Virginia Universitys World Music Center spring concert Thursday, April 10.
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre of the Creative Arts Center on WVU s Evansdale Campus. The event will be a tribute to Mannette, who is planning to retire from his position as artist-in-residence at WVU within a year.
The performance will feature the WVU Steel Ensemble, along with the Miami University of Ohio and Eastern Kentucky University steel bands. The three ensembles will be performing as one massive steel drum orchestra, consisting of more than 70 musicians and led by guest artists Jeff and Andy Narell.
This concert is a huge undertaking, and its going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event,said Gordon Nunn, concert director and interim director of WVU s World Music Center.Steel drum ensembles of this size are rarely assembled for an entire concert.
The concerts guest artists and steel bands all share a special relationship with both Mannette and the University.
The directors of each of these steel bands, Chris Tanner of Miami University of Ohio and Jason Koontz of Eastern Kentucky University, are both alumni of WVU and the World Music Center,Nunn said.Both received their introduction to steel drumming through WVU s program.
Andy Narell is considered to be one of the leading steel pan performers in the field of contemporary music and jazz today, and is one of the top composers of music for the steel drum orchestra,he said.Jeff Narell is also a leading performer, educator and composer in the steel drum world.
The Narells have been performing on steel drums since their youth in Queens, N.Y. During the 1960s, their father, Murray Narell, was in charge of a community center for inner-city youths. He organized a steel ensemble for the neighborhood, which provided an alternative for youths who might otherwise have been hanging out on the streets.
Murray Narell was responsible for bringing Mannette to the United States, inviting the steel drum pioneer to Queens to build and tune steel drums for his community center steel band.
Mannette was born in Trinidad and became part of a group of innovative steel drum builders and tuners, working with steel bands in the pan yards of Port of Spain during the 1940s and50s. These trailblazers were responsible for inventing most of the instruments that make up the modern steel band.
Since arriving in the United States more than 30 years ago, Mannette has traveled from coast to coast, sharing his knowledge and applying his craftsmanship to building and tuning steel drums. His contributions have been integral to the development of steel drum programs in elementary, middle and high schools; universities; and community centers throughout the country. Mannette came to WVU in 1992 at the request of Phil Faini, dean emeritus of the College of Creative Arts, who wanted to bring a world-class steel drum program to the University.
Mannette has received numerous awards, including the 1999 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies and induction into the Percussive Arts Society International Hall of Fame.
Tickets for WVU s World Music Concert are $10 for the general public; $6 for WVU faculty, staff and senior citizens; and $5 for students. There are also group discounts available. For tickets and more information, call 304-293-SHOW.