by Laura Baier
MSUM’s Fuego Tropical Steel drum and World Music Ensemble will present an evening of culture, music and salsa on Friday, Nov. 6. An open dance floor for all guests to learn new moves will accompany the sounds of steel drums and Afro-Cuban music.
“Come ready to have fun. We don’t want you to sit in your chair,” Ensemble Director Dr. Kenyon Williams said. “Come up to try something new on the dance floor with a bunch of other people learning salsa for the first time.”
Also performing will be guest artists, Latin percussionist Ruben Alvarez, Dr. Tom Strait on trumpet and members of the F-M Salsa Dance Club.
“We have a lot of fun playing it because there are different things incorporated — like the great guest artists, steel drums, dancing, auxiliary instruments and everything combined creates a pretty fun concert,” said ensamble member and music industy sophomore Aaron Gabriel.
This is Fuego Tropical’s 11th season performing music of various cultures. Williams formed the ensemble in the fall of 2004 with four steel drums and eight members. The ensemble has been successful every year since then, and now has eight sets of steel drums, a drum set, an electric bass, multiple auxiliary instruments and 18 members of the band. They have performed with F-M Symphony, Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome, at various cultural festivals and some members have studied in Trinidad, the home of steel drums. Current member and instrumental music education senior, Austin Orth, studied in Trinidad and has been performing with Fuego Tropical for four years.
“After every concert, you can tell that everyone eats it up,” Orth said. “I have never seen anyone leave a performance displeased.”
Fuego Tropical has members of all years in school and levels of musicianship.
“I like how unique the instruments are and I don’t think I would have been able to learn this anywhere else,” said Linnea Bader, ensemble member and teaching ESL freshman.
The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. in the CMU Ballroom. There will be free salsa dance lessons before the performance at 7 p.m.
“It’s the kind of instruments and music that makes you want to be a percussionist, too,” said Bader.