Sounds of the Caribbean fill the halls of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and beyond

NOW: Sounds of the Caribbean fill the halls of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and beyond

MILWAUKEE (CBS58) – It is the sound of the Caribbean. An exotic instrument, you wouldn't expect to hear in the heart of Milwaukee. Dents that create notes, hammered into industrial waste containers like oil drums.

"It's like banging on pots and pans but in tune,” said Anya Griffith, MYSO steel pan student.

Each portion producing a slightly different sound from the one next to it.

“Just the way it sounds it makes you so happy," said Lorelei Wesselowski, MYSO steel pan student.

It’s the steel pan. The Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) has been around for 68 years, but a slightly newer and lesser-known program is the steel band.

Director Tim Rush says many people are unfamiliar with the steel pan.

"It’s not part of our culture our immediate culture at least,” Rush explained.

But once you hear it...

"Everybody's got that moment when they see these instruments for the first time, and it just blows your mind,” said Rush.

The instruments originated in Trinidad in the 1930’s.

"We’re representing the culture of steel pans and the country of Trinidad at the same time and that's a very important part to us,” said Rush.

During a time of oppression in Trinidad, a distinctive sound emerged.

"It’s like a living symbol of the beauty that can come from times of oppression,” said Rush.

In hopes of growing the steel band, Rush turns to Milwaukee Public Schools.

“I'll go to their music programs and do a little presentation and I’ll show one of these instruments and once they see that instrument there like wow that's interesting,” said Rush.

“Rush came to my school he brought a steel drum and he's like hey anyone that wants to play this step into the auditorium,” Griffith explained.

Anya Griffith has been playing a lead pan for more than a year with MYSO.

She says she was drawn to its unique sound

“It’s really rare, you don’t hear it or see a lot of them,” said Griffith.

Only in 9th grade, Griffith attributes the band to helping her find herself

“It’s made me a lot happier, lot more confident in certain areas, my grades got better, it makes you feel really good and it’s really fun to perform for people,” said Griffith.

For most students like Lorelei Wesselowski, MYSO has become her second home.

"It has meant the entire world to me honestly; I do lots of extracurricular activities and this is my favorite. There’s just nothing else like it.”

Carribean beats, played in the heart of the 4-1-4.

“The kids come from Milwaukee Public Schools, they all live within the City of Milwaukee, we perform in the City of Milwaukee everything is so closely identified with Milwaukee,” said Rush.

"It's really special. I'm so grateful I found it and it found me,” said Wesseslowski.

The Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra will be playing the opening day of Summerfest on Thursday June 20th.

If your child is interested in joining, click HERE

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