Steel Drum Duo Performs at WWU

Renowned artist Gary Gibson brings Panduo

By: Becky St. Clair

Gibson has been playing steel drums since he was eight.

Taketawa is the other half of Panduo.

Walla Walla University will host Gary Gibson, renowned steel drum director and composer, on Saturday, October 25, at 8 p.m. in Village Hall.  Gibson will perform with fellow steel drum artist Miho Taketawa.  The concert is free and open to the public.

Gibson has been playing the steel drum since the age of 8 when, inspired by a performance by the U.S. Navy steel band at a parade, he hammered out his own four-note steel drum on his own round metal “Sno-Flake” sled. 

“We are thrilled to have Panduo performing here on our campus,” says Brandon Beck, interim chair of the Music Department at WWU.  “Gibson is a top-notch musician, and I’m excited that our own steel drum band will get the opportunity to work with and learn from him.”

In addition to a full-length live concert, Gibson is also making himself available to the Walla Walla University Steel Drum Band, which Beck directs.  Gibson and Taketawa will conduct a workshop for the group on Sunday afternoon. 

At the age of 43, Gibson spent two months in Trinidad, West Indies, the birthplace of the steel drums, and became a national champion as a member of the 120 member Exodus Steel Orchestra in the 2004 Panorama competition.

Gibson has formal musical training through graduate school in the classical genre as a percussionist and composer.  With a loyalty to his classical training and the jazz interest he developed as a teenager, Gibson combines both using the steel drum.

As a graduate student at Wichita State University, Gibson led his own 16-piece steel drum group, the Pan America Steel Orchestra.  He continued there to earn a master’s degree in music performance as a drummer, vibraphonist, and keyboardist.

His professional credits include placement on the jazz faculty at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, Chicago State University, and University of North Texas, where he was the first director of the school’s steel drum band.  He has also recorded feature movie soundtracks as an orchestral percussionist, and has performed for numerous shows at Seattle’s premier Broadway theaters. 

For links to view videos of Gibson’s 6-piece band, Yahboy!, performing, visit

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