Players of the steel drum

Players of the Caribbean

Steel Drum Ensemble to debut at World Music & Cuisine Festival.

Brian Fronzaglia gives the count off and as the nine-member group begins to play a traditional Calypso entitled "Ayko Ayko," the rehearsal room in the Fine Arts Building begins to vibrate.

It's the kind of good vibrations one normally associates with warm weather and sand between your toes.

Just two weeks out from their debut performance, Missouri Southern's new Steel Drum Ensemble is preparing to bring a bit of Caribbean flavor to the area. The campus and community will have the chance to sample their sound during the World Music & Cuisine Festival on Friday, March 28.

The Steel Drum Ensemble will also perform during a percussion ensemble concert set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2, in the Bud Walton Black Box Theatre.

Selections will include "Brown Eyed Girl," "Margaritaville" and "Cantina Band" from "Star Wars."

Funding for the instruments - which were only delivered a few short weeks ago - came through efforts by the Missouri Southern Foundation and assistance from the Institute of International Studies, as well as a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $8,000.

"I've always said that if you want the percussion area and music department to have something nobody else in the area has, this was it," says Fronzaglia, the interim head of the Music Department who also performs with the group.

That was one of the big draws for Gabrielda Ervin, a freshman music performance major.

"I knew we were going to have a cultural experience," she says. "You're not going to get to do this anywhere else. It's a great opportunity."

While the group has had to learn to play the instruments in a short amount of time, Ervin says she's excited that they'll soon be able to perform in front of an audience.

"The notes themselves are not that difficult, but the style is completely different," she says. "The way the pans are set up, the notes are placed over a series of drums. Your playing style is all over the place. There's a lot of movement."

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The Steel Drum Ensemble will also perform during a percussion ensemble concert set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2, in the Bud Walton Black Box Theatre. Selections will include "Brown Eyed Girl," "Margaritaville" and "Cantina Band" from "Star Wars."

Images

Students practicing the steel drums The steel drum ensemble practicing A student practicing the steel drums Steel drumbs being played