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Caribbean

Published on May 31st, 2013 | by Wayne Bowman - Trinidad Express Newspapers

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Biden showed great respect for steelpan

The pan presented to United States Vice-President Joe Biden by Prime Min­ister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the end of his visit to Trinidad this week was purchased at Gill’s Pan Shop in Cu­repe. Gill manufactures pans using barrels that are custom-made for them, using precise specifications to ensure accurate tuning. A representative of the company told the Express the low tenor in the scale of C was ordered by the Office of the Prime Minister. The price of the pan and the desig­n­­er case it came with was not disclosed, but such a pan usually costs $4,600-$5,500 without a case, but including the stand.

When US President Barack Obama was in Trinidad for the Summit of the Americas in 2009, he was presented with a tenor pan, and he also purchased two mini pans for his daughters. Those instruments were sourced for him at Trinidad and Tobago Instruments Ltd, which is also known as Panland, based in Laventille. Keith Diaz, president of Pan Trinbago, told the Express that although his organisation was not consulted by the Government in the selection of the pan acquired and presented to Biden, he is happy the national instrument was cho­sen as a gift.

He also expressed his appreciation to Biden for how he reacted to the pan and the music it makes. “I am happy over the statement by Vice-President Joseph Biden when he heard the steelband playing at his arri­val (at Piarco International Airport). I was told that he said that he was hearing some sweet music, and he walked right up to the band (Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force steelband). “He showed great respect to the steelpan, and him being the second in command of the most powerful nation in the world, that says something for the instrument. “Pan Trinbago says thank you to Vice-President Biden for appreciating our national instrument as he did,” Diaz said.

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