All these drums, and more, are needed to produce the music performed by the Empire High School PANdemic Steel Drum Band.
All these drums, and more, are needed to produce the music performed by the Empire High School PANdemic Steel Drum Band.

Empire High School’s Imperial PANdemic Steel Drum Band will be performing its eighth concert at Academy Village’s Arizona Senior Academy on Tuesday (Nov. 19) at 11:30 a.m.

The band is a little different each time it performs there, losing some members through graduation and gaining new ones from the younger classes. Since the band enjoys presenting a variety of music, each concert is fresh.

Directed by David Walton, a founding member of the University of Arizona Steel Drum band program, the Imperial PANdemic performs traditional Caribbean music, such as calypso, reggae and soca (soul calypso), along with pop, jazz and even the occasional classical piece.

The band is a little smaller this year than in some previous years. Now numbering 12, they are able to bring the entire ensemble to the Academy, whereas in the past the small stage forced them to make do with a partial contingent.

Their playlist for Tuesday’s concert is still in the planning stages, but Walton notes that Bach’s baroque aria “Bist du bei mir” is on the short list. In keeping with the time of year, Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” March and Waltz of the Flowers may be heard as well.

Other possible offerings in the works are a Salsa piece called “Father’s Day”, and “Steelband Paradise,” composed by Trinidad native Ray Holman, one of the giants of steelpan music. Walton suggests listening in this piece for the panorama of sound– where the pitch and tone roll from high to low across the range of drums – a very special effect.

On Dec. 3, local residents will have another chance to hear this distinctively talented group: at 7 p.m. they will be performing at the Vail Theatre of the Arts, 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way. Admission is free.

Submitted by Janet Kerans, Academy Village Volunteer

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Ready to Reggae? Empire Steel Drum Band Returns: Nov. 2013
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