Holiday flashback: Barrels to Beethoven
On the heels of a successful holiday party last month, Barrels to Beethoven — an organization co-founded by Leigh Solomon Pugliano and her husband, David Pugliano, that focuses on the preservation, education and innovation of the steelpan — is launching a new initiative: the Wilkinsburg Youth Steel Orchestra
Fundraising currently is underway for this new orchestra, which was developed to provide a comprehensive steelpan music program for children living in Wilkinsburg and surrounding communities. The program will train a class of young people to be better musicians, creatives, collaborators and citizens by using a contextually underappreciated instrument and narrative.
The program will also follow the traditional steelpan culture in the Caribbean that allows young people to develop as musicians through performance ensembles as a means to preserve art and culture and build a sense of community. The program is designed to teach children to expand their knowledge and abilities under the banners of musical literacy, cultural and historical awareness, craftsmanship and personal development. In addition to the steelpan, there will be a family of instruments similar to the string or wind family so the entire orchestra will be comprised of instruments in the steel drum family.
“The steelpan has had such a positive impact on my life and the lives of so of many youth around the world,” said Ms. Pugliano. “The instrument impacts both the player and the audience and builds self confidence through the development of skills, technique and performance. In addition, youth steel bands help to connect people and build community. The youth in WYSO will gain pride as they represent their neighborhood through concerts and performances around the region and beyond.”
She also believes that it is extremely important for everyone to have opportunities for creative expression. “I find it to be even more impactful when we learn and create as a group. As we know, arts education is especially important for youth, children and youth who participate in our steelpan education programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase wellbeing, build self-esteem, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood,” she added.
The hope is that this program will be the foundation for community youth steel orchestras throughout the Pittsburgh region which directly aligns with the mission to provide impactful cultural arts programming as well as develop a new generation of steelpan players, teachers, builders, and tuners, along with teaching more people about the history of the steelpan and preserve the stories of the AfroCaribbean people who developed it.
The program needs to raise $100,000 to purchase the instruments and operate for the first year. The orchestra will rehearse once a week at the Barrels to Beethoven education space in Wilkinsburg at Community Forge. To learn more about this blossoming organization visit: https://barrelstobeethoven.com/.
#TheSuccess: Barrels to Beethoven celebrated all the good work the organization has been doing at a holiday party Dec. 20 at Community Forge. Guests played the pans, enjoyed light bites and drinks while socializing with family and friends. “The holiday party was a wonderful way to thank the individuals and organizations that support our work. It was a beautiful evening,” Ms. Pugliano said.
#SEEN: Alice and Chad Barnett, Allegra Battle, Elaine and Larry Lucci, Ayesha Scott, Albert Cheng, Zaheen Hussain, Maria and Joseph Pugliano, Amy and Brett Staggs.
Stella Pugliano plays the steelpan.
Sofia Pugliano plays the steelpan, center, along with brothers Zosha Nowe, left, and Ziah Nowe, right.
Kairi Bradshaw-Waters plays the steelpan.
Barrels to Beethoven students perform.
Barrels to Beethoven students perform.
Cecelia Pugliano plays the steelpan.