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Caribbean

Published on July 29th, 2013 | by David Cuffy - Trinidad Guardian Newspapers

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Remembering Taspo 62 years later

Sixty-two years ago, on July 26, 1951, a significant aspect of steelband history was recorded with an appearance by Taspo at the Summer Festival of Britain.  The acronym Taspo stands for the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra—a band formed in 1951 as a direct result of the violence that was rampant among the steelbands in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Opportunity knocked in the guise of the 1951 Summer Festival of Britain, an exposition of arts, crafts, exhibitions and cultural events from all over the United Kingdom, including its colonial possessions, that brought forth the suggestion from Sir Hubert Rance, Trinidad’s English governor at the time, that a steelband represent the island colony at the event.  This suggestion was enthusiastically supported by influential organisations and individuals who had been campaigning for the steelband, and felt that an appearance at the Festival of Britain would help in its struggle for respectability.

Taspo was the first major undertaking of a steelband association that was formed in 1950 on the recommendation of the 1949 government-appointed Steel Band Committee. The association’s president was Sydney Gollop.   Other members included Port-of-Spain solicitor Lennox Pierre, Carlyle Kerr, union leader Nathaniel Crichlow, and Oscar Pile—all outstanding activists of the steelband movement. Lieutenant Nathaniel Joseph Griffith—born in Barbados—who had been playing with the Trinidad Police Band and was a qualified musician, was co-opted and consented to teach music, a move that certainly contributed to the high number of bands that joined the association.

 

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