Shaka Steel and Ka Pa Kani Ko’ele O Laie, known as the Polynesian Drum Ensemble, showed off different sounds of the tropics in a concert on Oct. 11 in the McKay Auditorium. BYU-Hawaii currently has the only steel band on the island of Oahu, according to the Music Department faculty.
The Polynesian Drum Ensemble used traditional Tahitian drums called To‘ere. Lloyd Chandler, the director of the band, said they typically play Tahitian drumming. The band is comprised of students and community members and while they played, children and adults from the community performed traditional Tahitian dance.
Nathan Kahaialii, a senior from Maui studying exercise science, said, “I think it’s good… It brings both the community and university together and helps create a better bond, a better family.”
Shaka Steel then came on after the Tahitian drumming with a bang. Their first number, “Rant and Rave,” was well received with its lively Caribbean textures. Kahaialii said he most enjoyed the first and second songs. “I like them because they were very upbeat and fun. They were very tropical as well,” said Kahaialii.
Chantal Hopper, a senior from California majoring in international cultural studies, also commented, “It was so cool. There was so much rich culture that came from tonight’s performance and we do this every semester… It’s just so beautiful.” Hopper plays in the band on the lead pan, one of the large silver drums in the front.
Hopper said she saw the band play her first semester at BYUH and just had to join. She said she already had musical experience playing the piano and flute, which made the transition to percussion a bit of a challenge. “I’m still not very good at it, but I am getting better,” Hopper said.
One of the stars of the evening, Josh Wallace, a senior from California studying music, performed two solos, one using triple guitar pans and another as a vocal solo. Josh Wallace said he came to BYUH to study percussion and then he joined the Shaka Steel Band.
“I have always been interested in wanting to do the ensemble… I fell in love with it the first day, and I’ve been with it every semester since I’ve been here,” said Wallace.
Wallace said his favorite instrument to play in the band is the triple guitar, a set of three steel pan drums that supply the rhythm for the band. “That one is just so much fun because I feel it fits my personality. It plays the rhythm part, but it has a lower end to it, not quite bass. It’s just really fun to play because you get to move a lot when you play it,” said Wallace.
“Playing in this band is an honor and something unique that I get to do,” said Wallace. This was Wallace’s last performance with the group since he is graduating this Fall Semester. He said he would miss playing at BYUH because of family atmosphere in the Shaka Steel Band.
Dannah King, a senior from Washington studying international cultural studies, said she really enjoys coming to see the Shaka Steel Band. “It was very good. There were really interesting pieces that displayed South American, Caribbean and Trinidad music,” said King.
She said the piece “Jordopia” really stuck out to her. “I really liked the trumpet part because you could hear the jazz influences as well as the African influences it in,” said King. She said more students should come out to support the Music Department because the students work hard on what they do.
Seeley Dopp, a senior from Idaho studying international cultural studies, said, “Shaka Steel is one of my favorite parts of BYU-Hawaii.” Dopp said the show was like a party, with attendees enjoying every aspect of the performers’ energy.