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October Is Pan Month

By Terry Joseph
October 04, 2002

Port of Spain Mayor Murchisson Brown has proclaimed today "Steelband Day", heralding a month of varied pan activity that runs from this evening until October 27, the final concert of Pan Royale.

To mark Steelband Day, business houses that follow the Friday dress-down principle have been asked to allow employees to wear T-shirts signifying reference to their favourite steelbands or reverence of the instrument.

Special T-shirts have been printed and are available at regular music event outlets. Radio stations have also been asked to favour pan music in their programming.

This evening a parade will course through Port of Spain, tracing steelband evolution from the days of tamboo bamboo and bugles, through pan round the neck to conventional orchestras, featuring Witco Desperadoes, PCS Starlift, bpTT Renegades, BWIA Invaders and Woodbrook Playboyz.

Beginning at 4.30 pm outside the World Steelband Music Festival (WSMF II) headquarters at Quad Row the parade, which will be peopled by a number of Carnival characters. It will move east along Park Street, then south on Frederick Street to the Brian Lara Promenade, where it will disperse at 7pm outside the Twin Towers.

Tonight at The Club (Chaguaramas Convention Centre), WSMF II semi finalists T&T Defence Force Steel Orchestra will be special guests at the continuing Bring Yuh Pan and Come concerts which will also see competition between five soloists, who will ramajay on songs selected in situ.

Indeed, October has emerged as pan month, with three of steelband music's most ambitious events taking place in Port of Spain over the 24-day period.

Next Thursday, the second edition of the World Steelband Music Festival (WSMF II) will open with the semi-final round for 23 selected soloists. Playoffs take place at the St James Amphitheatre from 7 pm.

On the night following, it will be the turn of 12 duets and nine single-pan bands play their final at the same venue. On Saturday, 13 ensembles and those soloists who qualified from Thursday night compare notes in the final round of both categories.

The first International Steelpan Symposium and Exhibition, a two-day conference coordinated by Dr Clemont Imbert and staged by the WSMF committee in collaboration with the National Institute of Higher Education, Researchand Technology (Niherst) and the UWI's Steelpan Development Centre, takes place at Cascadia Hotel on October 15 and 16. An exhibition of pan evolution and innovation will be on display for the duration of the symposium.

Apart from Dr Imbert, contributors include researchers Richard Mc David and Brian Copeland, Legal Affairs Ministry personnel Nicholas Lue Shue and Richard Aching, sound engineer Frank Agarrat, pan manufacturer and marketer Michael Cooper and visiting physics professors from Northern Illinois and El Paso universities.

On those very nights, orchestras enter their semi-final round at the Jean Pierre Complex. Champion of the inaugural WSMF 2000, TCL Group Skiffle Bunch is one of 18 bands scheduled for the semi-final rounds on October 15 and 16.

They will come up against 12 local orchestras and five visiting bands.

The home team comprises Exodus, Solo Pan Knights, SBU Trinmar Hatters, Court's Laventille Sound Specialists, Valley Harps, Merrytones, Melodians, Parry's Pan School, Gary Straker's Pan School, Moods,Buccaneers and the T&T Defence Force Steel Orchestra.

Visitors in the orchestra line-up are England's BWIA Ebony (winners of the Pan European title), Calyps'Atlantic from France, Grenada's Courts New Dimension Steel Orchestra, ESS Pan Sounds from St Lucia and Canada's Northern Lights.

From the two nights of semis, eight bands will be selected for the orchestra final, which takes place at the Jean Pierre Complex on Saturday October 19.

Six days later, the three-night Pan Royale concerts open at the QRC grounds with a brace of world-famous soloists flown here to match notes with Len "Boogsie" Sharpe. On Saturday October 26, four top steel orchestras bring their guests to the stage and for Sunday's closing matinee, ensembles and choirs join the chorus.

Among the stars being jetted here for Pan Royale are Grammy Award winning Ralph MacDonald and his sextet and homegrown Robert "Robbie" Greenidge,Rudy "Two-Left" Smith and David "Happy" Williams.

For the Saturday show, reigning calypso king of kings, Black Stalin joins Panorama and Bomb competition winners Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars, Exodus, Tobago's Redemption Sound Setters and TCL Group Skiffle Bunch and their various guests. On Sunday evening, The Southernaires, Lydians, JenueAgape and Signalite Chorale will perform with steel ensembles.

The marriage of steelband and calypso music is also in evidence at WSMF II, with test pieces for all categories coming exclusively from the catalogue of The Mighty Terror.

Ensembles will play their interpretation of "Steelband Jamboree", one of the tunes that won Terror the 1966 national crown, while orchestras will do the hugely popular "Pan Talent" and single pan bands are due to render "Last Year's Happiness."

The festival is being produced by The Pan Foundation, a subsidiary of Pan Trinbago, while Pan Royale is a product of the QRC Foundation, which is chaired by Ainsley Mark.

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