Scott McConnell

Director of Steel Orchestras/CYSO Recording Coordinator

Scott McConnell is an active percussion/steelpan performer and Educator from Chicago Illinois. In addition to his role as Director of Steel Orchestras and recording coordinator with Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Scott can be found working with a number of other steel ensemble and percussion programs in the Chicagoland area. These programs include steelband instructor at  William Hatch Elementary, as a percussion and steelband faculty member at Birch Creek Music Performance Center, and lecturer of music at Elgin Community college in percussion and steelband as well percussion and rock ensemble at Lewis University. As a member of these organizations Scott teaches, arranges, and performs on both steelpan and percussion.

Scott’s diverse and eclectic interest in learning many styles of music led him to a portfolio career that include performances with the Illinois Festival Orchestra, South East Steel Orchestra, Starlift Steel Orchestra, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, and the Four Star Brass band, to name a few. As an advocate and representative for steelpan, Scott co-founded Pastiche Steel Ensemble, a professional steelband that focuses on sharing the power and versatility of the steelpan through new collaborations and mediums. Members of Pastiche went on to create the Virtual Steelband, a project that brings pannists from around the world together virtually to premiere new steelband music. As a committee member of the Virtual Steelband, Scott helped bring to life Bella Vista and Pan Kingdom, two new steelband compositions. Scott is now working to commission new works for steel ensembles through his program at CYSO. His students have recently premiered a piece for steel orchestra and string ensemble by Aaron Gage, and are looking forward to premiering a work by Ben Walhund for steel orchestra and percussion ensemble in 2025. 

Scott earned both undergraduate and masters degrees in percussion and steelpan performance from Northern Illinois University, studying with world-renowned pedagogues Cliff Alexis, Greg Beyer, Robert Chappell, and Liam Teague. Upon completion of his masters degrees, Scott continued his study with Liam Teague, earning a performer’s certificate in steelpan studies. In May 2014, Scott completed a second masters degree in recording media technology, studying with Grammy-winning recording engineer Dan Nichols. During this time, he worked as the graduate assistant and served as the mastering engineer for the NIU Steelband’s latest CD, Dangerous

Scott McConnell is an endorser of Vic Firth, Zildjian, and Mike Balter.

Who is your favorite composer and why?

My two favorite composers for steelpan are Andy Akiho and Jit Samaroo. Andy Akiho has been a leading force in bringing new sounds, styles, and collaborations to the steelpan while Jit Samaroo is one of the pioneering composers for the steelpan. His mastery of arranging for steelband is something that composers and arrangers still study and look up to today.

Fun fact about you that might surprise people

I used to play in a pop band that had a song featured in a Miramax movie!

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