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Published on August 12th, 2016 | by Peter Ray Blood Trinidad Guardian Newspapers


Chinese come to hear pan in Laventille

Last Monday marked one year since Pan Trinbago Inc staged the historic, inaugural International Panorama competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain. The competition was won by Massy Trinidad All Stars, playing Leon “Smooth” Edwards’ arrangement of De Mighty Trini’s Curry Tabanca, two points ahead of second-placed FCB Supernovas, performing Dr Samaroo, arranged by Amrit Samaroo. With the national steelband movement and its member bands being very active this past year staging events every month, new international ties are being made between local pan musicians and their global counterparts in places like Africa, France, Finland, Argentina and China.

Locally, the momentum of steelband activity will increase this month, August being designated Steelband Month. The month’s programme actually began with events last Friday at the panyards of MHTL Starlift and CAL Invaders, but it exploded on Saturday with the staging of the 18th annual Emancipation Steelband Festival & Steelband Parade by the Laventille Steelband Festival Foundation, headed by Michael Cooper, along the Eastern Main Road. A special space was reserved in the VIP section for the members of Beijing’s Ritan High School, hosted in Trinidad by Panland T&T Ltd. Ritan is one of the very few schools in China with a steel orchestra and Panland invited the school to witness the Laventille Steelband Festival & Street Parade to forge a strong relationship with a complementary school programme in T&T.

The entourage of 23 visitors, including 16 high school students, parents and teachers, returned to China on Monday. This connection between T&T and China came out of new links that have been established for the supply of steelpan instruments in the Chinese market after years of work and was facilitated through the Embassy of T&T in Beijing.  Panland began supplying pans to China in June this year. Ritan High School is interested in developing its pan programme and this trip will broaden their understanding of the steelpan and the land of its birth. Success Laventille Secondary School had been selected to host an exchange with the students and teachers of the Ritan High School, based on the successes of its championship steel orchestra, Success Stars Pan Sounds, its experience as cultural ambassadors, and its well established music programme.  This will initiate a relationship between both schools but more so between T&T and the People’s Republic of China on many levels. Despite heavy rain and a prolonged power outage in the area on Saturday, proceedings began a couple hours after the programme’s advertised 5 pm opening.

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