Meet the Directors of the Steel Drum Band

Dr. Larry Snider

Dr. Larry Snider is Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Illinois State University and The University of North Texas...more...

Matt Dudack

Matt Dudack has been with the band since 1996 and has been artistic director since 1998.  He holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the Hartt School, and a master's degree in...more...

Past artistic directors were Shelly Irvine and Rick Kurasz

Dr. Larry Snider#

Dr Larry Snider

Dr. Larry Snider is Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois State University and The University of North Texas, respectively, as well as a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in percussion performance from the University of Illinois.

Dr. Snider has built a strong Percussion Program whose graduates consistently achieve professional success as performers and educators throughout the world. The program’s most visible and widely acclaimed component is The University of Akron Steel Drum Band, which enables students to gain valuable experience in teaching and playing ethnic music and Latin accessory instruments. Founded in 1980 by Dr. Snider as one of the nation’s first and foremost collegiate panorama-style ensembles, the Steel Drum Band performs locally and throughout the United States. Proceeds from sales of the band’s CDs benefit scholarships and other funds for students studying percussion at The University of Akron.

The band’s recent “Hammer on Steel,” a CD and DVD documentary, has been nominated for eight Emmy awards for the 2011 broadcast year. “Hammer on Steel” showcases steel band music and the self-taught musicians who created it in the early- and mid-1900s during the heated struggle for independence in colonial Trinidad and Tobago. It also tells the unlikely story of how the Caribbean sounds of the steel drums have found a home in less-than-tropical Northeast Ohio.

Also widely acclaimed is the UA Percussion Program’s focus on new and experimental music. Dr. Snider received the first-ever Outstanding Arts Educator Award presented by the Akron Area Arts Alliance in fall 2001. Dr. Snider has served on the percussion faculty at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and the International Percussion Workshop in Zagan, Poland, and as an adjudicator at the International Marimba Competition in Warsaw, Poland. He is often invited to be the chief international adjudicator for World Steelband Festival competitions in Trinidad and the United States, which draw steel bands from around the world. Dr. Snider has recently been appointed to the Board of Directors for internationally acclaimed SO Percussion.

An accomplished performer, Dr. Snider is Principal Percussionist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and has served as an adjunct percussionist with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Matt Dudack#

Matt Dudack

Matt has been with the band since 1996 and has been artistic director since 1998. He holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the Hartt School, and a master's degree in performance from the University of Akron. His arrangements and original compositions have been featured both in performance and on the band's recordings. Part of his duties at the University of Akron include teaching an arranging class for steel drums and private lessons.

In 2002, Matt traveled to Trinidad to get a first-hand look at the home of pan. While there, he was able to perform during Panorama with the Invaders Steelband as well as check out many of the other bands on the island. In 2010, Matt travelled again to T&T, as executive director for “Hammer on Steel,” a DVD and PBS broadcast which was nominated for 8 Emmy awards.

Matt is founder of “Found Sounds” which performs educational programs throughout the Northeast Ohio region. The group performs for schools through the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (formerly Young Audiences of Greater Cleveland) and the Children's Concert Society of Summit County as well as countless private bookings.

Matt is a percussionist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and has worked with one of the Symphony's outreach programs, the PATHS "Pandemonium" Steelband. He is also directs the steelband at the Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Akron and is on the faculty of Canton Country Day School as a co-curricular arts teacher.

He is co-founder of Akros Percussion Collective, a group which performs new and experimental works for percussion. Akros has performed internationally at the “Blurred Edges” festival in Hamburg, Germany and in NYC as a part of So Percussion’s “Night of Awesome(ness).” Matt has premiered chamber works by Ben Johnston, Stuart Saunders Smith, John Bergamo, Emmanuel Sejourne, Robert Carl, and has performed at many Percussive Arts Society International Conventions