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Caribbean

Published on March 21st, 2015 | by Carol Ann Andrews

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Harvard Harps Steel Orchestra

The Harvard Harps Steel Orchestra was the brainchild of the late Lenigan Barnes.  He was a member of The Harvard Sports Club in Port-of-Spain and in 1991 thought it was a good idea to have a Steel Band in the Club.  Some Club members did not think that this was a good idea.  But one friend of Len’s, Carl “Bunny” Daly decided it was not a bad idea after all and supported Len all the way. They both begged for and got pans and racks from Starlift and Invaders. They got one set of six Bass, and one pair of Guitar pans along with racks. Determined were they to form a Steel Band

J’ouvert morning 1992 saw the first appearance of the Harvard Harps with a few borrowed pans and the pans donated to them. The racks were of course not the best so although the bass rack broke down the band went all the way to town anyway, without the bass. After that, the band came out every year always breaking down at some point but they not give up.  The main thing was to have lots of fun, a laugh, a few drinks, and a “pick up” side.  Even then the band would stop at the Pan Trinbago competition and play a tune, just for fun, not really competing.

After Len’s death the new captain, Mr. Patrick “Patsy” Jagdeo, asked the late Junior Pouchet to arrange a “Bomb” tune.  For the next few years Junior Pouchet and eventually the late Steve Dupres arranged some unforgettable  “Bomb” tunes.  These talented men arranged music for the love of the culture and the band began to be noticed.

All that time the band practiced under two almond trees in Harvard Club and was not really taken seriously.  In 2001 some members, who were fed up of the racks breaking down decided the time was right to build a forty ft. trailer to carry the band on J’ouvert morning.  During the year the Band had a repertoire, which was performed at private events and also some events at Harvard Club. The two arrangers responsible for those musical arrangements were Mr. Roy Edwards and Mr. Douglas “Dougie” Redon. No doubt new pans were acquired along the way. The Band now owned pans made by Roland Harrigan.

After the unfortunate passing of Mr. Steve Dupres, Mr. Douglas Redon became the sole arranger for all the music, (the repertoire and Bomb tunes) and also the leader of the double second section. His arrangements on J’ouvert morning since 2004 have gained top positions beating much bigger bands. Indeed the band has also placed first at some venues.

In 2009, the captain became Carl” Bunny” Daly.  In 2013, Bunny was responsible for rebuilding the panyard, by getting help from some kind hearted people. Still an unsponsored band the pan yard is a much more comfortable place to practice. More pans were bought.  The band now owns pans made by Butch Kelman and Herman Guppy.  In 2014 Harvard Harps took a bold and positive step to take part in the Panorama competition in the small band category for the first time.  The tune of choice was Black Stalin’s “Bun Dem” paying Tribute to Nelson Mandela as a freedom fighter. The band did not make it to the semi final round.

In 2015, Harvard Harps topped the North Zone with 266 points and came 3rd nationwide out of over sixty competing bands in the preliminary round, playing “Tribute to Spree Simon” by the Lord Kitchener.  Unfortunately the band did not make it to the finals.

My name is Carol-Ann Andrews and I have been a member of the Harvard Harps Steel Orchestra since 2000.  I am the secretary and leader of the Tenor section and proud of our band.  Forward we go, with only positive vibrations.

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