Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA) is the home of Taiwan’s thriving pan movement. TNUA invited Cliff Alexis and Al O’Connor, both resident at NUI, to build pans back in 1988. The university saw this as an opportunity to increase its percussion offerings to their students. Alexis and O’Connor built six pans for the fledgling orchestra, which also included a drum set. As with many new audiences before them, the Taiwanese were captivated by the pans and TNUA’s steel orchestra were an instant success.
To keep the movement alive, TNUA employed the services of Sarah Barnes-Tsai, a protégé student of Alexis and O’Connor at the time. Barnes-Tsai arrived in 1989 on a short contract, but nearly 24 years later, she and the TNUA pan movement are still proving popular. Many steelbands have visited and toured in Taiwan. Notably Renegades of Trinidad & Tobago and Pantempers of Belize.
TNUA now have twelve pans and two steel orchestras and almost 1000 Taiwanese students have taken up steelpan classes at the university.