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Caribbean

Published on September 29th, 2015 | by TandT Newsday Newspapers

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‘Pan, a gift from God’

THE national instrument — the Steelpan — has been described as a magnificent gift from God by manager of Bp Renegades Steel Orchestra Michael Marcano. Marcano was speaking yesterday at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-of-Spain as members of the Trinidad and Tobago Girl Guides, Sea Scouts, Cadet Force and Rangers participated in a celebration to mark the 39th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago becoming a Republic.
Marcano said the way in which the Steelpan was developed and came into existence was a blessing for Trinidad and Tobago.

“The people who developed the Steelpan had no knowledge of tuning an instrument, it did not happen by guess… they did it from inspiration, so that had to come from God and sometimes we don’t recognise when we have a gift,” he said.  He said recently at the International Conference of Pan (ICP) held by Pan Trinbago a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed among all participating countries.  One of the articles in the MOU spoke to the question of TT being the centre of authority with the development of the instrument.

“What this means to me is that, if TT is to be the centre of the development of the Steelpan, we should have a chair and a committee at UTT or UWI with respect to the research, the development and everything to do with the Steelpan.  We must professionalise the entire structure of the Steelpan, if the world is to come to us” he said.  Marcano emphasised that the Steelpan was made the country’s national instrument, but still does not get recognition of its fair share of broadcast.  “If the youths are fed music from another culture they are going to like and learn the music. We do not really hear the national instrument on the television and on the radio stations. The excuse they use is that the young people do not like it, but children live what they learn and you cannot use that as an excuse,” he said.  He said some people agitate for legislation to demand air play, but he do not believe in that philosophy because no one can “force someone to love even themselves far less to love their own music”.  “What we have to do is speak to the children and teach them the history of their culture on the legacy and heritage of the Steelpan which is a gift from God. There are larger countries in the world that cannot lay claim to an original instrument of music. We are 1.5 million who developed the Steelpan along with Calypso and Soca and that is a gift from God and if we don’t use it, God will take it back from us,” he said.

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