Founded by Al O’Connor in 1973, the steelband program at Northern Illinois University was the first of its kind in the United States. Thanks to the talent and dedication of O'Connor, Cliff Alexis, Liam Teague, Yuko Asada, and a plethora of NIU students and staff members, the program has flourished into one of the most important in the world. Having welcomed a variety of distinguished guest artists and traveled to perform in locales around the US and in Taiwan, Trinidad, and South Korea, the NIU Steelband has achieved international acclaim as a successful and unique university world music program.
This fascinating history of the NIU Steelband traces the evolution of the program and engages with broader issues relating to the development of steelband and world music ensembles in the American university system. In addition to investigating its past, Steelpan in Education looks to the future of the NIU Steelband, exploring how it attracts and trains new generations of elite musicians who continue to push the boundaries of the steelpan. This study will appeal to musicians, music educators, ethnomusicologists, and fans of the NIU Steelband.