What began as a winter-term project in January 1981 has since become one of Oberlin’s most beloved music performance groups—Oberlin Steel, or OSteel.

The Oberlin Can Consortium, as it was originally called, is a steel drum band made up of dozens of students playing various “pans,” steel percussion instruments that originated on the Caribbean island of Trinidad in the early 20th century. Over the course of three decades at Oberlin, OSteel has grown to include a full-to-capacity Experimental College course offered every semester, an annual spring break tour throughout a region of the United States, and a finale performance during Commencement’s Illumination ceremonies.

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Photograph by Scott Goldsmith