Barracuda Steel Drums, Owner
Primary Builder and Tuner
Emily Lemmerman is a professional pan builder and tuner, the first woman to tune for Panorama in Trinidad, and also the first foreigner to tune for its large band category.
As a professional pan tuner, Emily Lemmerman has uncommon access to and perspective on our national steelband landscape. She travels to work with bands from coast to coast (and beyond) not only as a tuner, but also as an educator, clinician, adviser, and performer. With a formal background in classical music, after a full-time apprenticeship with Ellie Mannette, and with over 20 years of experience in the field, Emily is one of few people intensively immersed in the broad range of major steelband communities that exist in the United States. Emily is a passionate advocate for collaboration and celebration of the diversity that enriches the many successful pan programs that bring joy to communities across America.
Emily first played a steel pan in 1994 during her percussion studies at Ithaca College with Gordon Stout and Ted Rounds. Her love of the instrument led her out of the orchestra and into the panyard. This path surprisingly led her to Appalachia, the adopted home of Trinidadian and renowned steelband craftsman Dr. Ellie Mannette. She traveled to West Virginia to participate in his annual summer workshops and perform with many of the great artists in the steelband community. These experiences influenced her work back at Ithaca, where she began her advocacy of the steel drum as an orchestral instrument. After earning her performance degree in 1998, she moved to Morgantown to study steel drum construction with Dr. Mannette, whose symphonic vision of the instrument continues to inform and inspire her work.
Lemmerman apprenticed with Dr. Mannette and worked for his company from 1998-2004. Here, she honed her building and tuning skills and directed his steelband workshop as its Coordinator for four successful seasons.
Emily has played in many Panoramas- in London, New York, St Vincent and Trinidad, performing on Quadrophonic, 9-Bass, 4-Cello, Double Seconds or playing rhythm. She performed for many years with the Invaders Steel Orchestra- the band that Dr Mannette founded in 1937- and was proud to be a member of the 2009 Panorama champion Silver Stars Orchestra. She has also enjoyed playing with Power Stars, Skiffle Steel Orchestra, Tokyo Steel Orchestra, Katzenjammers, and the Harvard Harps in Trinidad and Tobago, Croydon Steel Orchestra in London, Crossfire in New York Panorama, and with the South East Steel Orchestra in St Vincent.
Emily has tuned for the Croydon Steel Orchestra in London Panorama since 2011, and in 2013 achieved a lifelong goal when she became the first woman to tune Panorama in Trinidad, and the first foreigner to tune in the large band category, blending for Skiffle Steel Orchestra from San Fernando. She travels extensively to tune, perform, and clinic with steelbands globally, from Switzerland to Laventille to Seattle.
Emily Lemmerman lives in Austin, Texas. She continues to build and tune steel drums in the style of Dr. Ellie Mannette, and strives to achieve the level of excellence he so passionately models. It is in honor of Dr. Mannette, his support, and his impact on her life that she chose the name “Barracuda” - a legendary instrument of his design - for her company.
Examples of her tuning can be heard in many places, including Austin, Texas, Denton, Texas, London, England, and San Fernando, Trinidad.
Emily Lemmerman also works professionally as an educator, composer, arranger, clinician and lecturer. She is published by Boxish Music and founded Austin's vibrant Inside Out Steelband Camp in 2007. She has served as a clinician at many different programs, including the National Trails Steelband Festival, Croydon Steel Orchestra, University of Texas, University of North Texas, the University of the West Indies, and the McCallum High School Fine Arts Academy in Austin.
Read more in the Trinidad Guardian, Tom Tom Magazine, on Dr. Jeffrey Jones' Panorama blog, the Swiss Steelband publication PANCH, and at When Steel Talks. And once more in the Trinidad Guardian.
CJ Menge studied classical percussion at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has been playing steel drums professionally for over fifteen years.
Menge established the Inside Out Steel Pan Project Arts-in-Education program in 1996 in Austin, TX. Menge has founded steelband programs in several Austin schools, some of which boast multiple bands and daily, curricular rehearsals. Menge’s workshops, performances, and Artist-in-Residence programs have directly inspired and impacted other steelbands, which number no fewer than fifteen bands in ten local schools.
Menge founded the Inside Out Community Steelband in 2000 to give Central Texans the opportunity to participate in steelband outside of school. This program consists of four bands with students ranging in age from 12 to 65. Presenting over 75 performances and reaching an audience of over 150,000 annually, each spring they are featured in a formal concert alongside internationally known guest artists.
In 2007, Menge established Inside Out Steelband Music, which later became Boxfish Music, to publish new music for steelband by a range of composers. His original music is a strong marriage of playability and thoughtful compositional construction. Having contributed over 100 new compositions and arrangements to the existing steelband library, this prolific work is a rich source of accessible new compositions and arrangements.
As a central figure in the Austin steelband community, CJ Menge’s leadership unifies and gives focus to its musical efforts, and his expertise and inclusive nature inspire and enrich its experience.