All the way from Canada, Toronto All Star Steel Orchestra will give the command performance at the conclusion of the 28th annual Australian International Music Festival taking place tomorrow– July 15– at Sydney Town Hall.

Festival organisers selected TASSO for the honour immediately following the band’s adjudicated presentation at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on Thursday night.

A distinctive melodious sound combined with a high level of musicianship help TASSO stand out in a festival setting.

Lead by musical director Salmon Cupid, the 29-member band has members ranging in age from 12 to 20 and is one of more than 40 wind, choral, jazz and orchestral ensembles with an estimated 1,200 participants competing at AIFM this year from around the world.

AIFM is a juried competition awarding gold, silver and bronze medals to deserving bands in various categories following eight days of performances at venues across Sydney, including the Opera House, Angel Place and the Conservatorium.

An audience favourite, TASSO performs arrangements of big band and pop music classics in addition to original compositions like Faces whose shifting dynamics and textured rhythms mirror the multicultural Canadian immigrant experience.

TASSO, which further reflects that mosaic through its own multiracial make up, occupies a unique position as the event’s only steel pan ensemble and is a strong contender for top prize.

When the band last performed in competition at the Sydney Opera House in 2007 it walked away with the gold.

“We’re hoping lightening strikes twice,” said Mr. Cupid on learning his group would be the lead act at Saturday’s closing ceremonies.

The Canadian Consulate in Sydney also has fingers crossed.

“We’re so proud of TASSOā€ˇ and their involvement in what appears to be a successful Australian foray,” said public affairs manager Sharon Pinney.

Besides Sydney Town Hall, TASSO will perform a free outdoor concert at Darling Harbour, in front of the Maritime Museum, starting at 1pm on Saturday.

Bring dancing shoes. This band moves!