Musical Instrument Technician
Assistant with the NIU Steelband
Director of the Community School of the Arts Steelband
Yuko Asada is a musical instrument technician at Northern Illinois University where she directs the NIU Community School of the Arts Steelband and contributes to the daily operations of the NIU Steelband.
She also serves as assistant steelband director at Birch Creek Music Performance Center and steelband director at NIU Percussion Camp. Yuko attained a Bachelor of Arts degree from West Virginia University, where she was first introduced to the art of steelpan building and tuning by Ellie Mannette. She later pursued and earned a Master of Music degree and a Performer’s Certificate in steelpan from NIU, where she gained many years of steelpan building and tuning experience as an apprentice and intern to Trinidadian steelpan builder Cliff Alexis.
Yuko has presented her work at multiple conferences including at the Young Women’s Conference in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Princeton University and International Conference and Panorama in Trinidad and Tobago. She conducted several workshops at various locations including Japan, Australia and Thailand. In 2009, Yuko co-founded the Pastiche Steel Ensemble, a group of musicians who perform new music for steelpan and advocate for culturally-attuned steelpan education.
She also co-founded the Virtual Steelband and Pan in Unity, online performance projects that brought together pannists from around the world. Yuko not only builds, tunes, conducts workshops and performs, but she also transcribes panorama arrangements, serves as clinician/adjudicator for steelpan festivals and competitions, and composes/arranges for steelbands and chamber groups at all levels.
For her many years of work, Yuko was the feature of a Japanese documentary show entitled Gutto Chikyubin (Earth Mail) in 2017 and will be featured again in 2020. She was invited to perform her original composition, “Opposite Attraction: 3 Short Pieces for Tenor and Bass Steelpans” at the 2019 Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and again in 2021 to present a memorial concert for Cliff Alexis.