The Miami University Steel Band was founded in 1994 with a complement of ten players and six instruments. Under the leadership of founder and director Chris Tanner, the program has grown to encompass two separate ensembles with a combined enrollment of over sixty members, and twenty-five university-owned instruments. The ensemble is very active, performing in a number of settings including on campus concerts, summer park venues and in-school outreach programs. The group has invited many renowned artists in the field to perform with them over the years, including Ray Holman, Tom Miller, Liam Teague, Gary Gibson, Jeff Narell and Andy Narell. The goal of the Miami University Steel Band is to present excellent performances of quality literature in the steel band idiom, with a special emphasis on original music by contemporary composers.
The Miami University Steel Band is one of the few university bands to have released professional-quality recordings. The group has produced four recordings since 2001, the latest being Three Wishes (2009). The MU Steel Band's music is available through Pan Ramajay Productions (www.ramajay.com) and also through the iTunes Music Store and other online services. Aside from recordings, appearances at prestigious events are also propelling the Miami University Steel Band onto a national stage. The ensemble has twice headlined the Virginia Arts Festival's annual PANorama Music Festival (2008, 2003), and has appeared at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention three times (2011, 2005 and 2002).
As the art form of pan grows in the 21st century, the Miami University Steel Band aspires to be one of the leading programs in exemplifying excellence in performance, and in expanding the repertory for this unique ensemble.