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Published on October 27th, 2013 | by Robbie Joseph


Laventille lad receives MBE for his contribution to the steelpan culture – Brent Holder MBE

The Port of Spain Police Youth Club in Trinidad was the first place Brent started playing the steelpan instrument from the tender age of eight. During his time at the Youth Club he was able to play with Potential Symphony and Blue Diamonds Steel Orchestras at the Trinidad and Tobago National Steelband Panorama competition. The Youth club also competed in many school festivals until they were victorious at the Schools Steelbands Music Festival in 1991. In that same year at the age of thirteen, Brent played with the renowned Renegades Steel Orchestra at the T&T National Steelband Panorama competition. They attained second place playing, ‘Rant and Rave’.

He first went abroad not only play pan but teach pan in Columbia in 1992 at just 15 years old, he has since gone on to perform and teach worldwide, including Japan, Holland, Dubai, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, France, Morocco, Seychelles to name just a few. He has also been lucky enough to perform too with some of the best artists in the world including performing for Her Majesty the Queen.

Brent’s pan playing skills continued its development cycle whilst he was at Renegades for eight years. He was also a member of the Solo Pan Knights Steel Orchestra for a few years before he immigrated to the UK. He is no stranger to competitions and the following are some of his achievements

1995 – T&T Junior Steelband Music Festival – 2nd Place in the soloist category playing his own composition, ‘Patience’.

1996 – Pan is Beautiful – 1st place in the soloist category playing his own composition, ‘Patience’.

 1997 – T&T Junior Steelband Music Festival – 2nd place in the soloist category playing, ‘Voices of Steel’, his own composition.

1998 – Pan is Beautiful – 1st place in the soloist category playing his own composition, ‘Voices of Steel’.

2000 – World Steelband Music Festival – 2nd place in the soloist category playing his own composition, ‘Musical Antics’.

2001 – BAS Pan Explosion Competition – 2nd place in the soloist competition playing his own composition, ‘Musical Antics’.

2002 – BAS Pan Explosion Competition – 1st place in the soloist category with his own composition, ‘Voices of Steel’.

Brent’s musical arrangements of ‘Free Up’ saw Solo Pan Knights placing second in the Point Fortin Borough Day competition in 1999. Brent confirmed that composing needs lots of focus and determination and it was evident in his domination of the 2002 BAS Pan Explosion competition. His own composition, Daylight’ saw them capture the ensembles category.

He was also one of Ebony Steelband Trust’s in house arrangers during his tenure with them before he decided to set up his own gigging steelband, CSI, which he formed in 2002 to perform at corporate events, wedding receptions and birthday parties and is the resident steelband at the Kensington Holiday Inn’s Caribbean Experience evenings. He orchestrated the creation of the CSI Steelband Trust in 2008 as part of CSI’s development cycle.  Since then his band has been developing in leaps and bounds achieving 3rd place in the UK National Panorama competition after only four appearances in this competition.

CSI Youth Steel Orchestra playing Brent’s musical arrangements has won the UK BAS/CAPCA Junior Panorama competition consecutively for 2008 – 2010 and in June 2010 they were also crowned the Dutch Junior Panorama Champions.

Because of his natural ear for music Brent was chosen to be an adjudicator for the ‘Music for Youth’ festivals for many years with their Schools Proms held annually at the Royal Albert Hall.

For the past few years he has been the visiting tutor for the Co-Musica project and the Weekend School at the Sage Gateshead, Newcastle, UK. He continues to teach the art of playing the steelpan in several London  schools. Brent has worked with many bands including Sounds of Steel, Ebony, Steelquake, Stardust, Solo, Sunshine Panners, North Tyneside, just to name a few.

In 2011, Brent Holder – composer- arranger- teacher is acclaimed to be the first British/Trinidadian to compose his own tune for pan. He also wrote the lyrics for his first tune, ‘Pan in de Panyard’, for the UK National Panorama 2011. The tune is about giving people who don’t know, an idea, about how steel bands get ready for panorama. For years, Brent wanted to do a Panorama tune earlier but because of his busy schedule running the CSI Steelband Trust, he has not been able to find the time until the 2011 season

‘Pan in de Panyard’ was written and composed by Brent ‘Antics’ Holder, the tune was sung by Anslem Douglas and its production was done by Junior ‘Ibo’ Joseph. Brent extended his sincere thanks to Anslem, Ibo and Duvone Stewart for his pan solo in the tune. He also acknowledges the efforts of Alvin Daniel, Pan Podium and When Steel Talks in the promotion of his own composition.

Brent has worked with some outstanding musicians globally and also composes his own musical pieces. He hails from Laventille, in Trinidad and is the proud father of four children with another expected soon, all of whom share his musical talents.

The Mayor of London’s Thames Festival 2012 included a record breaking attempt by a group of UK steelbands made up of a nation of steel pan players from over sixteen UK steelbands, culminating in a performance-as-one to represent the greatest number of steelpan instruments playing together in a single steelband ensemble. Brent in conjunction with Fiona Hawthorne, Colin Salmon, the Arts Council of England and the Mayor of London hosted this memorable event with Brent performing the duties of musical director for the piece ‘Brasil’.  The event was to celebrate the passing over of the Torch for the 2016 Olympic

This year Brent has been awarded an MBE by H.M Queen Elizabeth, which he collected from Prince Charles on the 23rd October 2013 for his contribution to the steelpan culture. At 36, Brent is the youngest Trinbagonian to receive an MBE award. Never forgetting where he grew up, Laventille, Trinidad. Brent is proud of his achievements to date. Not only is he known worldwide, won numerous competitions but he continues to strive to share his passion and love of music with the world and educate and nurture the future stars of the pan world.

Brent stated after receiving his award, ‘ I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Almighty for guiding me and my family to receive this award today from Prince Charles on behalf of the Queen. I wish my late wife and grandmother; Crystal Holder and Edna Johnson were here to witness it.  A big thank you to my band CSI for all your love and support. CSI will be 6 years old on 07th November 2013 and I couldn’t be prouder of all our achievements and what we have accomplished as a band. I also want to thank my mum Clare Holder and all my adopted dads Owen Serrette, Keith Diaz, Richard Forteau, Pepe Francis, Sonny Blacks, Russell Henderson, Gerald Forsyth and Robbie Joseph of Pan Podium for their continuous support. Remember Pan is a mission not a competition. Love CSI and Music! ‘


Brent and Chris Brent Brent1 Buckingham Palace Buckingham MBE Brent and Family

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