The world-famous NIU Steelband celebrates 50 years with an anniversary concert, Sunday, April 16 at 3 p.m. in the NIU Music Building’s Boutell Memorial Concert Hall.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students and free for NIU students.

The concert will feature the NIU Steelband under the direction of Liam Teague and assisted by Yuko Asada, the All-University Steelband co-directed by Joshua Bedeau and Jalen Charles and the CSA Steelband directed by Asada.

Performing with the steelbands are the DeKalb High School Steelband directed by Steve Lundin, the NIU Jazz Orchestra directed by Reggie Thomas and the NIU Steelband 50th Anniversary Choir conducted by Mary Lynn Doherty.


The NIU Steelband was founded in 1973 by Al O’Connor, former associate dean of Music, and head of percussion studies. He was at the forefront of the development of the steelband art form in North America, and his pioneering work influenced the formation of steelband orchestras at educational institutions throughout the USA and Asia.

The NIU Steelband was the first actively performing steelband at an American university. Under the direction of O’Connor and the late Clifford Alexis—whom Al convinced to join the staff at NIU—the band made many significant and memorable appearances including its performances at Yankee Stadium; PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention), where they were the first steelband to perform at the convention; World of Drumming Festival in Seoul (2002), and two tours of Taiwan.

In the early 1990s, together with Clifford Alexis, O’Connor was able to convince Lester Trilla, CEO of the Trilla Drum Company in Chicago, to implement a scholarship fund which would assist students primarily from the Caribbean to pursue music studies at NIU. Trilla agreed to do so, and through his philanthropy, a great number of students have been able to attain music degrees and go on to have successful careers in their respective homelands.

Liam Teague is Professor of Music and Director of Steelpan Studies at Northern Illinois University (NIU), where he also leads the renowned NIU Steelband. Teague is the recipient of an NIU Board of Trustees Professorship Award (2022) and a Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor Award (2018).

Hailed as the “Paganini of the Steelpan”, his commitment to demonstrating the great musical possibilities of the steelpan has taken him to throughout the world, and he has received many awards from his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago, including the Hummingbird National Award (Silver) and the Ansa McAl Caribbean Award for Excellence. In 2022, The San Fernando City Council honored Teague with the Keys to the City of San Fernando, his hometown in Trinidad and Tobago.


Yuko Asada is a musical instrument technician and director of the NIU Community School of the Arts Steelband at Northern Illinois University. Yuko was first introduced to steelpan tuning by Ellie Mannette while studying for her Bachelor’s degree at West Virginia University.  She further honed her skills and passion for steelpan by completing a Master of Music degree and a Performer’s Certificate specializing in steelpan construction from NIU, where she had the opportunity to work closely with Clifford Alexis.

The program includes a performance of “Still Here” dedicated to O’Connor, Alexis and Trilla.

Special guest performers include Permanent Representative of Belize to the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Lynn Young and His Worship Junia Regrello, Mayor of the City of San Fernando, in Trinidad and Tobago. Other guest performers include Davon Roberts (drum set), Todd Donnelly (steelpan), Paul G. Ross (drum set), Ella Barribeau, Dzana Bogalijevik, Logan Bryant, KaLilah Chears, Naomi Dutton, Nat Garbe, Ethan Gonzalez, MJ Harr, Caroline Menzer, Emily Montelongo, Alexia Quinn, Korbyn Ringer, Clare Steffes, Michael Tuskey, Emma Vaughn, Olivia Wells, Josanne Francis, Evon Sams (saxophone), Khan Cordice (double second steelpans), Rich Holly, Greg Beyer, Ben Wahlund, Jean Christophe Leroy, Phil Beale, Mardra Thomas, Sean O’Connor, Chih-I Hsaio (erhu), Cornelius Johnson,  Kenneth Joseph, Nicole Riordan and Nicolas Barrios.


Brute Force                       Arr. G. Allan O’Connor
Still Here           Evan Jacobson
Performance dedicated to G. Allan O’Connor, Dr. Clifford Alexis, and Les Trilla
NIU 50th Anniversary Choir
Mary Lynn Doherty, conductor
Sean O’Connor, narration
You Can Call Me Al  Paul Simon
  Arr. Zahra Lake

Josanne Francis, soloist
DeKalb High School Steelband; Steve Lundin, director

Song to the Chiricahua                        Clifford Alexis

Matthew Kiser, lead pan
Evon Sams, saxophone
Khan Cordice, double second steelpans

Address; Paul Kassel, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts
Community School of the Arts (CSA) Steelband
Pan 2000 (prelude) – Funky Town        Cliff Alexis, Steven Greenburg
  arr. Yuko Asada
NIU Steelband
Wood’n Steel               Robert Chappell
Lovely Day            Bill Withers/ Skip Scarborough
Arr. Christian Melhado
Mardra Thomas, vocalist; Reggie Thomas, keyboard
All-University Steelband
Legacy             Joshua Bedeau, Jalen Charles, Rashunda Dorset Headley
NIU Steelpan Studio
Grape is Ripe                 Wei Zhou
  Adap. Yuko Asada
Chih-I Hsiao, erhu
NIU Steelband
Nessun Dorma from Turandot  Giacomo Puccini
  Adap. Kenneth Joseph
Cornelius Johnson, tenor
Kenneth Joseph, conductor
Pan by Storm         Ken “Professor” Philmore
  Trans. Zeev Saffir
La Vida es un Carnaval           Victor Daniel
  Arr. Kareem “TJ” King
Nicole Riordan, Nicolas Barrios; vocalists
NIU Jazz Orchestra; Reggie Thomas, director
DeKalb High School Steelband; Steve Lundin, director

50th anniversary guest performers

Brute Force: Todd Donnelly Steelpan; Paul G. Ross, drum set

Still Here: Ella Barribeau, Dzana Bogalijevik, Logan Bryant, KaLilah Chears, Naomi Dutton, Nat Garbe, Ethan Gonzalez, MJ Harr, Caroline Menzer, Emily Montelongo, Alexia Quinn, Korbyn Ringer, Clare Steffes, Michael Tuskey, Emma Vaughn, Olivia Wells

You Can Call Me Al: Josanne Francis

Song to the Chiricahua: Evon Sams, saxophone; Khan Cordice, double second steelpans

Wood ‘n Steel: Rich Holly, Greg Beyer, Ben Wahlund, Jean Christophe Leroy, Phil Beale

Pan By Storm

  • Permanent Representative of Belize to the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador LynnYoung
  • His Worship, Junia Regrello, Mayor City of San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Daron Roberts (NIU alum), drum set


NIU Steelband

Jalen Charles
Matthew Kiser
Tzu Yun Chiu
Noah Payton
Christian Baugher
Daniel Ben Grych

Double Tenors
Rashunda Dorset-Headley
Jonah Payne
*Liam Teague

Double Seconds
Robert Simmons
Matthew Schneider
Evan Jacobson
Fernando Marroquin Mendoza

Savion Nicholls
Jordan Raia
Karl Olsen

Ethan Patterson

*Yuko Asada
Zachary Villegas
Rhiannon Robinson
Michael Speziale

Engine Room
Joshua Bedeau, drum set
Andrew Kinsey, congas; auxiliary percussion


All-University Steelband

Jackson Patrick Rich
Kelton Kennen

Double Tenors
Royce Pataras
Clare Steffes

Double Seconds
Abigail Grace Deewaard
Bryan McNeela

Marquice Boyd

Owen Vaughn
Nolan Valyou

CSA Steelband

Shelia Carey
Vanessa Coolman
Tracy Diehl
Todd Donnelly
Emily Douglas
Michelle Irving
Ryan Irving
Mary Visser

Double Seconds
Cindy Danzell
Mary Haddad
Chad Nichols
Barb Parness
Joe Pasteris

Tzu-Yun Chiu
Jan Reynolds

Evan Jacobson
Katja Wiemer

Tyler Donnelly

NIU Jazz Orchestra

Evon Sams, alto saxophone
David Perez, tenor saxophone
Megan Rault, baritone saxophone
Gabriel Wade, trumpet
Charlie Watson, trumpet
Phil Pistone, trumpet
Kirby Fellis, trombone
Brandon Diehl, trombone
Spencer Mackey, trombone

DeKalb High School Steelband

Makenna Baxter
Levi Grych
Jessenia Ramirez
Caileen Szostak
Grace Thurman
Madison Wimberly
Jenna Zimmerman

Double Tenor
Brooklyn Burks
Daniel Clements
Becky Duda

Double Second
Mariel Espinosa
Sarah Haley
Megan Medina
Stephen Montgomery
Jaden Teague-Nuñez

Taylor Hennessee
Jackson McPartlin
Junior Snow

Gary Nedelcu
Julia Rassmussen

Engine Room
Levi Grych
Jaden Teague-Nuñez
Jenna Zimmerman
Mariel Espinosa

NIU Steelband 50th Anniversary Choir

Ella Barribeau
Dzana Bogalijevik
Logan Bryant
KaLilah Chears
Naomi Dutton
Nat Garbe
Ethan Gonzalez
MJ Harr
Caroline Menzer
Emily Montelongo
Alexia Quinn
Korbyn Ringer
Clare Steffes
Michael Tuskey
Emma Vaughn
Olivia Wells