The NIU Steelband is directed by Liam Teague (Head of Steel Pan Studies/Professor of Music) and Yuko Asada (Musical Instrument Technician). Created in 1973 by G. Allan O'Connor, it was the first active steelband formed in an American university and has performed throughout the United States and around the world. NIU is one of the few institutions in the world at which students may pursue music degrees (undergraduate and graduate) with the steel pan as the major instrument of choice.
The Steelband is a 35-member group and mainly comprises steelpan and percussion majors. The band performs regularly at public schools, colleges and universities, as well as conventions and arts series. The band has four recordings to its credit; including the most recent, "Dangerous", featuring an eclectic blend of styles.
Liam Teague is Professor of Music and Head of Steelpan studies at Northern Illinois University (NIU), where he also directs the renowned NIU Steelband.
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 Humming Bird National Award (Silver) and the Ansa McAl Caribbean Award for Excellence.
He has also performed with many diverse ensembles, including: National Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan National Symphony, Czech National Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Vermeer String Quartet, Avalon String Quartet, Nexus, and the PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars Steel Orchestra.
Teague has appeared in concert with Grammy-Award winning musicians Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Samuels, Zakir Hussain and Dame Evelyn Glennie, and has regularly collaborated with NIU colleague, Robert Chappell.
His compositions and arrangements are published with MaumauMusic, PanPress and RamajayMusic, and Teague has commissioned outstanding composers to write for the steelpan, including: Michael Colgrass, Jan Bach, Libby Larsen, Andy Akiho, Ben Wahlund, Kevin Bobo and David Gordon.
He has also created a steelpan method published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, the world’s largest publisher of print music.
Liam Teague serves as the Panorama arranger for the PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars Steel Orchestra, and has many recordings to his credit, including: Hands Like Lightning, For Lack of Better Words, and Open Window.
Yuko Asada is a steelpan educator, performer, builder, tuner, arranger, composer and transcriber. She currently serves as a musical instrument technician at NIU.
Asada earned her undergraduate degree in music at West Virginia University, where she was introduced to the art of steelpan building and tuning by Ellie Mannette. She received her master’s degree and performance certificate at Northern Illinois University, where she furthered her studies under the primary tutelage of Cliff Alexis and Liam Teague.
She currently assists with the NIU Steelband, and directs the NIU Community School of the Arts Steelband. Yuko also serves as assistant steelband director at Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, Wisconsin.
Yuko co-founded, performs and arranges for the Pastiche Steel Ensemble - an ensemble dedicated to showcasing the many musical possibilities of the steelpan. Among Pastiche’s most notable achievements was their guest artiste performance at the 2015 International Conference and Panorama in Trinidad and Tobago, where they premiered the Virtual Steelband project.
On multiple occasions, Asada has adjudicated at Virginia International PAN Fest in Virginia Beach- one of the premiere steelband events in North America. As a transcriber of steelband music, Yuko Asada has been commissioned by many prominent figures from the US and Trinidad and Tobago. She has also transcribed works for Mark Loquan and the Trinidad and Tobago Music Literacy Trust, who have been dedicated to preserving music for archival an educational purposes.
In addition to the NIU Steelband, our program includes two other ensembles: the All-University Steelband, a group open to any NIU student regardless of major or previous experience on pan, and the Steel Pan Studio, which comprises steel pan majors exclusively. Since the introduction of the steelband at NIU, many institutions of higher learning in the United States have formed their own ensembles.