Today a steel drum, originally gifted to Australia by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, was officially presented to the ANU School of Music.
The new musical member will be added to the percussion family, further strengthening the University’s national and international musical reach and bringing a taste of the Caribbean to Canberra.
Steel drums are a relatively new instrument to the musical market, created about the time of World War II, and according to the School of Music’s Co-ordinator of Percussion Gary France the drum sound is best described as “heavenly”.
Associate Professor France said the drum would be a welcome addition to the ANU World Percussion collection.
“This is the first instrument of its genre to the collection,” he said.
“The ANU School of Music is the custodian of a wide range of percussion instruments, including a complete set of Ashanti and Ewe drums that I brought back from West Africa in 1999, a complete Javanese Gamelan orchestra, a family of Brazilian Samba instruments as well as a Chinese and South Indian percussion collection.”
Associate Professor France, who gave a performance on the drum at today’s ceremony, added it was important for ANU to have a vast array of instruments available.
“As a world leader in research, it is appropriate that the ANU School of Music have instruments available for students and staff to assist with performance research,” he said.
ACT Senator Kate Lundy made the official presentation on behalf of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Australian Government.
“The instrument was a gift from Mr Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister Republic of Trinidad & Tobago to our Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Australia in 2011,” Senator Lundy said.
“I know that the ANU School of Music will make effective use of the drum, and I am thoroughly looking forward to visiting in the future and hearing ANU musicians play this beautiful and unique instrument.”
The ANU Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS) also welcomed the donation.
“The joyous and celebratory sounds of the steel drum during Trinidad and Tobago’s epic annual Carnaval festivities will be a welcome addition to the soundscape of Canberra,” ANCLAS Acting Director Eugenia Demuro said.
“This generous gift will also bring attention to the poetry and penetrating social commentary of Trinidad and Tobago’s soca and calypso musicians, who set their words to the instrument’s ringing beat.”