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Caribbean

Published on July 31st, 2015 | by Ray Funk and Andrew Martin - Trinidad Guardian Newspapers

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The Virtual Panside

One of the more unique events of the upcoming International Conference and Panorama is a concert on August 7 by Pastiche Steel Ensemble.  The concert will be held at the Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt Hotel in Port-of-Spain starting at 8 pm and feature the American-based Pastiche Steel Ensemble. The steelband features a number of leading pannists from the USA, Japan, and Jamaica, led by Trinidad’s own Mia Gormandy.

The globalisation of pan is a major impetus for the International Conference and Panorama and the concert by the Pastiche Steel Ensemble fits the bill, taking pan global and to virtual realities never before seen or heard. The concert will feature original compositions for steelband by members of the band as well as calypso, pan classics, and a very hot contemporary work by the renowned American composer Andy Akiyo, whose new concerto for steelpan and orchestra premiered in May, by Liam Teague and the National Symphony, to rousing success.

The highlight of the evening will surely be the Pastiche Steel Ensemble’s premiere of their “virtual steelband.”  Bandleader Mia Gormandy conceived of the idea after hearing and watching the work online of composer Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir which was started in 2009 and quickly became a viral internet sensation. The concept of the virtual steelband is simple; you have a piece of music that is notated with special detail given to rhythm and dynamics.

Participants from all over the world are invited to add their voice by recording themselves performing the composition and then uploading the video track online. A team of engineers then works to combine the individual performances to create a seamless collage out of the many disparate parts, a completed composition. The Virtual Choir has evolved into a global sensation and for a performance at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 the ensemble featured 2,292 singers from 80 different countries.

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