Epic Steel Orchestra is an unfolding story of the power of vision and the pursuit of purpose. What began as an idea in the heart of Mr. Julian Champion to positively affect the lives of inner-city youth in a tough Chicago neighborhood, has become a musical sensation garnering the attention of audiences throughout the Midwest.
This energetic group began playing the indigenous steel drums of Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies, in 2010. Epic Steel is committed to performing the genre of music that gave birth to the steel drums in its native Trinidad – Calypso. The performers bring pleasantry and accessibility to this complex musical style and also demonstrates great flexibility and musical chops as they engage Latin, Jazz, Marches, Classical and Contemporary music.
The group has been described as “every bit the match in stage presence and technique” as that of well-known performing concert bands. They demonstrate the infectious and intricate beats of Calypso and the subtlety that is possible in performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.
The orchestra’s home is at the West Point School of Music – a community music school serving the needs of children with talent but without privilege. Epic Steel is the premier performing ensemble of the school, representing it at venues and in places where its students should be seen but are unable to come. The long term vision is for Epic Steel Orchestra to boast 100 players from some of the toughest neighborhoods on the south and west side of Chicago. Currently, there are 30 students enrolled in West Point’s ‘Celebration on Steel’ pan program. All Epic members assist in instructing new students as a part of their service to this transformative vision.
Julian J. Champion, a civic and socially conscious leader, is the founder of West Point School of Music and the director of this dynamic ensemble.