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Release: Sept. 20, 2002


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“Liam Teague + Robert Chappell,” an instrumental duo featuring Teague playing Caribbean steel pans and Chappell playing piano, marimba and tabla, will perform a University of Iowa guest recital at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, in Harper Hall of the UI Voxman Music Building.

The recital will be free and open to the public.

The duo was formed in 1998 to demonstrate that the steel pan, the national instrument of Teague’s homeland, Trinidad and Tobago, is capable of more than playing lilting melodies on cruise ships or island-theme parties. Combining classical arrangements, original works by Chappell and Teague, calypsos from Trinidad, and even 1920s Ragtime, the duo aims to demonstrate the lyrical, rhythmic, and improvisatory possibilities of the steel pan.

Teague and Chappell have performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, at universities throughout the United States, and traveled to Taiwan in September to perform at the National Concert Hall in Taipei and at regional cultural centers.

The program features a number of works recently recorded on Teague and Chappell’s new CD, “For Lack of Better Words.” Classical transcriptions include Niccolo Paganini’s “Moto Perpetuo” and Chappell’s adaptation of Bartok’s “Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm.” Originally for solo piano, Bartok’s pieces have been expanded with improvisational sections alternating between steel pan and piano.

Four original works that expand the solo and chamber repertoire of the steel pan will be performed. Chappell’s “For Lack of Better Words” for tenor pan and marimba is a Latin-tinged piece that highlights the disparate timbres of the marimba and steel pan. “In One Breath” might be called “jazzical,” since it contains elements of both intricate written composition and improvisation. Written for pans and tabla drums, “Panoraga” is based on the Hindustani classical music of North India, including a hybrid scale and a 16-beat cycle.

Teague will play his own dynamic solo pan compositions, including the award winning, “A Visit to Hell,” “Raindrops” or his new solo work from the CD, “The Honeybee.”

Hailed as a prodigy in the West Indies, Teague won his first national steel pan competition at the age of 13, one year after he began playing the instrument.

Teague premiered the Jan Bach Concerto for Steel pan and Orchestra with the Chicago Symphonietta in 1995 at Orchestra Hall. Since then he has performed this piece with eight orchestras including the Czech National Philharmonic, the Buffalo Symphony, the Sinfonia da Camera and the St. Louis Symphony as their national concerto competition winner.

The Chicago Sun-Times critic wrote, “Liam Teague is a certified virtuoso. Wielding his mallets at top speed, he unleashed cascades of sound as dazzling as the violin arpeggios and cadenzas of a Midori or a Gil Shaham.” John Von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune commented, “In soft lyrical passages Teague coaxed sweet, bell-like tones from the soprano steel pan . . . In the neo-baroque Toccata finale he seemed the musical equivalent of Leroy Burrell running the 100-meter dash . . . The audience exploded in cheers and whistles refusing to let Teague leave the stage until he had given them a solo encore.”

Teague has released four CDs on the Engine Room label. He has performed throughout North American and the Caribbean as soloist with orchestras, in recital with the Teague/Chappell Duo, as soloist with college steel bands, and with the Liam Teague Caribbean Jazz Group. He has recently been appointed research scholar at Northern Illinois University, where he teaches steel pan majors from the United States, Trinidad, Jamaica and Grenada.

Chappell’s career has encompassed an inclusive range of musical styles and genres in performance, education and composition. After he received degrees in percussion performance from Ohio State University and the University of North Texas, Chappell’s interest in world percussion resulted in continued study of Ugandan amadinda xylophone, West African drumming and East Indian tabla. He received an Indo-American Research Fellowship in 1990 for study with renowned tabla master Ustad Alla Rakha in Bombay, India.

He has performed with the Columbus, Ft. Worth, Dallas and Indianapolis Symphonies, and toured internationally and recorded with the Paul Winter Consort and his own world-jazz group, Rhythmic Union.

Active as an educator for 24 years, Chappell has taught at the University of North Texas and Indiana State University, and is currently head of percussion studies at Northern Illinois University (NIU). He is also Program Director at the Birch Creek Music Center in Door County, Wis., where he leads the Percussion/Steel Band Camp every summer.

A composer in contemporary, jazz, and cross-cultural idioms, Chappell’s works have been extensively published. His steel band composition “Wood-N-Steel” was premiered by the NIU Steel Band in Taipei, Taiwan, and an orchestrated version has been performed with the Chicago Symphonietta, the Rockford Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic. “Wood-N-Steel” was the top-scoring composition in the World Steel Band Festival 2000 held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, when the NIU Steel Band placed second in the world in competition with six international and eleven Trinidadian steel bands.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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