Yuko Asada is a musical instrument technician at Northern Illinois University (NIU) where she directs the NIU Community School of the Arts Steelband and contributes to the daily operations of the NIU Steelband under the direction of Liam Teague. She also serves as assistant steelband director at Birch Creek Music Performance Center, and steelband director at NIU Percussion Camp. Yuko attained a Bachelor of Arts degree from West Virginia University (WVU), where she was first introduced to the art of steelpan building and tuning by Dr. Ellie Mannette. She later pursued and earned a Master of Music degree and a Performer’s Certificate in steelpan from NIU, where she gained many years of steelpan building and tuning experience as an apprentice and intern to Trinidadian steelpan builder Dr. Cliff Alexis. Yuko has presented her work at multiple conferences including at the Young Women’s Conference in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Princeton University, and conducted several workshops at various locations including Japan and Australia. In 2009, Yuko co-founded the Pastiche Steel Ensemble, a group of musicians who perform new music for steelpan and advocate for culturally-attuned steelpan education.  She also co-founded the Virtual Steelband, an online performance project that brings together pannists from around the world. Yuko not only builds, tunes, conducts workshops, and performs, but she also transcribes panorama arrangements, serves as clinician/adjudicator for steelpan festivals, and composes/arranges for steelbands and chamber groups at all levels. For her many years of work, Yuko was the feature of a Japanese documentary entitled Gutto Chikyubin (Earth Mail) in 2017. Her works are published by maumaumusic.com and ramajay.com. 

ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE PIECE: 3 Short Pieces for Tenor and Bass Steelpans

Asada’s unique work, 3 Short Pieces for Tenor and Bass Steelpans, features a rare combination of tenor steelpan (the highest voice in the steelpan family) and the bass steelpan (the lowest).

I. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) showcases the HIIT workout musically.  With rapid movement and wide intervals used throughout, this highly intense piece ended up becoming a physical workout especially for a bass pan player.  

II. Departure was inspired by the passing of a steelpan pioneer, Dr. Ellie Mannette.  The piece exhibits strong emotions with sorrow, and the beauty of a soul departing to a warm and bright place.  A mixture of darkness and lightness, and unknown mystery of life and death is portrayed at the end.

III. Esque is a tango-esque dance, in which the lead and support roles shift between the tenor and the bass in various sections.  Both voices come together with ostinati to the last section that ends with a climactic coda.


Posted on

August 30, 2019