NYU Steel - When Glass Meets Steel

Josh Quillen, Director

MPAPS-UE/GE 1090/2190.003, Professor Josh Quillen, 0 - 3 Credits, Fall and Spring, Sunday from 2:00 - 5:00pm

NYU Steel is a significant performance ensemble within the NYU Steinhardt Percussion Program, where Professor Jonathan Haas serves as Director. Under the direction of Joshua Quillen, NYU Steel is dedicated to exploring the art of steel pans to the fullest, performing rare compositions and arrangements ranging in scope from Philip Glass and Jason Trueting, to David Rudder and Lord Kitchener from Trinidad and Tobago, where the art form was invented. The ensemble presents several unique performances each year, collaborating with composers globally, while enriching the steel drum repertoire. Recent noteworthy accomplishments include the exclusive recording of Philip Glass’ Piano Etudes, arranged by Joshua Quillen, which was released by Orange Mountain Music in May 2011, as well as promotional and tribute performances for Glass’ 75th birthday.

NYU Steel emphasizes an artistically and culturally diverse array of performance styles that break with traditional boundaries surrounding the esoteric genre of steel pan music.  NYU Steel seeks to create a bond between artist and audience that warrants an environment of creativity and community. With a hunger for innovation and desire to explore all the possibilities of steel pan music, NYU Steel has created the most unique ensemble of its kind, drawing from the rich cultural sounds of the Caribbean while incorporating the works of prominent composers such as Philip Glass in order to gain the instrument prominence on the world stage. As part of a global initiative instituted in collaboration with New York University, NYU Steel is constantly pursuing ways to reach audiences in an international scope, driving to cultivate a niche in the world stage. At the same time, NYU Steel continues to nurture relationships with the local community, intent on becoming leaders in education, performance, and creativity.

Whether engaging audiences with upbeat island tunes or dazzling them with the mellifluous sounds of Philip Glass, NYU Steel is becoming one of the premier university steel pan ensembles on the East coast. Enriching both the community and the city, NYU Steel is discovering all the possibilities when you combine glass and steel.


Piano Etude No. 9 - Philip Glass, Arr. Josh Quillen

Composer Philip Glass is considered by many to be one of the most prolific and influential composers of the late 20th century. While his compositional style is generally labeled as “minimalism,” he prefers to speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Throughout his illustrious career lasting over 25 years, Glass has composed 20 operas, 8 symphonies, concerti for piano, violin, timpani, and saxophone quartet, several film scores, and a large body of solo piano repertoire.

In the mid-90’s, inspired by his widely popular solo piano performances, Glass began work on a set of piano etudes. Over ten years later, new music is still being added to the collection. Glass notes, “Their purpose was two-fold. First, to provide new music for my solo piano concerts and second, for me to expand my piano technique with music that would enhance and challenge my playing. Hence, the name Etudes, or ‘studies’. The result is a body of work that has a broad range of dynamic, tempo and emotion. I hope to complete a second set of ten etudes, of which the first six are already composed, in the next few years." In the fall of 2007, So Percussion member and NYU Steel Drum Ensemble Director Josh Quillen began arranging the first volume of Etudes for steel drum ensemble. The Etudes dense textures lend themselves well to steel drum ensemble, and Quillen’s arrangements provide a unique and innovative approach to the performance of Philip Glass’ music.

Ben Lion - Canal and Andre Tanker, Arr. Matt Dudack / My Dulahin - Barnet "Preacher Henry, Arr. Matt Dudack

It’s Showtime - Edwin Pouchet, Arr. Kendall Williams


Photos by Marc Akiyama