NIU Steelband, All University Steelband to play concert featuring steelpan ‘artiste’ Victor Provost

Victor Provost
Victor Provost

The NIU Steelband and All University Steelband present its 2010 fall concert under the direction of Cliff Alexis and Liam Teague at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall of the NIU Music Building.

The concert will feature steelpan artiste Victor Provost, NIU faculty member Greg Barrett on clarinet and Brazilian percussion master Geraldo de Oliveira. The concert will include an eclectic mix including calypso, samba, jazz, hip hop and even Jewish Klezmer music.

Provost is one of those rare musicians that can transcend the expectations of instrument and genre.

With appearances at the DC Jazz Festival, The Kennedy Center, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (Jazz at Lincoln Center), the Umbria Jazz Festival, Pure Jazz Den Haag, and at major venues throughout North America, the Caribbean and Europe, he has been meticulously solidifying his reputation as a master of the steelpan and crafting an improvisational voice and style to be reckoned with.

Born and raised on the island of St. John, Provost’s musical journey began with classical piano lessons at age 10. Two years later, with the help of master teacher Jan Kinder, he won the Virgin Islands Classical Music Competition in the “Advanced Piano” category with Grieg’s A Minor Concerto (Norwegian Concerto). Later that year he heard Steel Unlimited II Youth Steel Orchestra rehearsing under the leadership of steelpan pioneer, Rudy Wells.

The “Orchestra” was the flagship of the St. John School of the Arts, directed by Ruth “Sis” Frank. It was with this group of extraordinary young musicians that Provost first cut his teeth on the world stage, traveling throughout the United States, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Germany. The orchestra eventually disbanded, but the experience planted the seed that prepared him to continue learning through several sessions with Wells and, in 2007, a year-long independent study with legendary jazz guru Charlie Banacos.

In 1998, Provost became the first steelpan player to be featured as a solo artist at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy. The experience boosted both his confidence in the craft and his musical concept.

Since his move to the United States in 1999, Provost has had the fortune of performing and touring with several award-winning groups and has shared the stage with the likes of jazz superstars including Bobby Thomas Jr., Dwayne Dolphin, Lafayette Harris Jr., Tarus Mateen, Etienne Charles, Terrell Stafford, Essiet Essiet, Wycliffe Gordon, Rashawn Ross, Reuben Rogers, Dion Parson, Ron Blake and Nicholas Payton.

Along with a demanding performance schedule, Provost also works with the Cultural Academy for Excellence, the premier steelpan music education program in the eastern United States and teaches private lessons.

The concert is free and open to the public. The NIU Music Building, 300 Lucinda Ave., is accessible to all.

For more information, contact Lynn Slater at (815) 753-1546 or lslater@niu.edu/.

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