Pioneer Steel Band performs

April 25, 2014
Pioneer Steel Band
Pioneer Steel Band

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.­­­ — Over the last forty years, the steel band movement has experienced rapid growth since the first bands came to the United States. Steel bands have avid popularity in the Caribbean, particularly the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, where over 100-member steel bands are common during Carnival time. Under the guidance and leadership of music department faculty member Keith Lienert, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Steel Band has experienced growth and expansion due in part to a grant from the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement. The Pioneer Steel Band went to Madison Country Day School on Monday, April 14 for a performance and interactive workshop.

Lienert started playing the steel pan when he was 13 years old while growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. He then attended Northern Illinois University played in the steel band while studying music. After his time at NIU, Lienert directed the Arizona State University Pan Devils Steel Band while pursuing his Master’s degree. The UW-Platteville Pioneer Steel Band began as a branch of the Pioneer Percussion Ensemble and became a separate class in fall 2013. UW-Platteville is one of only three universities in the UW System to have a steel band class.

The Pioneer Steel Band now features eight student members from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, including music and engineering. Allowing more people to participate was one of Lienert’s main goals when applying for PACCE funding.

“Many of the top university steel bands in this country have upwards of thirty members,” said Lienert. “The more instruments you have, the fuller the sound of the ensemble.”

At Madison Country Day School, the Pioneer Steel Band will give a 50 minute performance and presentation on how the steel pans were made, where they come from, and the styles of music typically performed. Steel pans, originating in Trinidad, are used to play calypso music, a traditional Trinidadian style that draws upon African and French influences. The Pioneer Steel Band will then work with several of the Madison Country Day School students in an interactive workshop to teach them how to play the pans by rote, meaning they will learn without sheet music.

“We want to introduce the students to the music and culture of Trinidad and Tobago and other countries in the Caribbean,” said Lienert. “We will show the students at Madison Country Day School what the pan is, what the steel pans can play, and that playing in the steel band is an option that is available to them at UW-Platteville.”

The Pioneer Steel Band will then perform in conjunction with the Northern Illinois University Steel Band on April 30 at 7 p.m. in the Richard and Helen Brodbeck Concert Hall in the Center for the Arts. The performance will be the final act in the 2013–14 Performing Arts Series. The Pioneers will open the concert, to be followed by NIU, who is celebrating the 40th year anniversary of its own steel band. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for those 62 and older or under 18 and $6 for UW-Platteville students. Tickets are available at the box office located in Ullsvik Hall, or by calling (608) 342-1298 or 1-877-727-1CFA. Tickets can also be ordered online at

Contact: Keith Lienert, percussion and jazz,, (608) 342-1018
Written by: Angela O’Brien, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194,


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