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The World

Published on October 24th, 2016 | by TandT Newsday Newspapers

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UWI doctorate for pan pioneer

Renowned pan pioneer Anthony Williams was yesterday presented with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine during the morning graduation ceremony. In his citation, University Orator, Brian Cockburn noted that Williams, 85, mastered playing the Ping Pong (the first steel pan) at a young age and began experimenting with the oil drum.
By 1951 he was the lead Ping Pong player with the Northern Stars, and later that year, became a member of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) which performed at several location in Europe under Musical Director Lieutenant Nathaniel Griffith.  When Williams returned to Trinidad and Tobago he became the leader of Northern Stars and used his experience with TASPO to change the way the band played.  He later designed the spider web pan, using the musical theory of “the circle of 5ths,” of which he had no prior knowledge, and so made a physical design to improve the tenor pan.

During his career, Williams performed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York; at Madison Square Garden in concert with pianist Winifred Atwell; appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show at Carnegie Hall; and won the first TT Music Festival in 1962. Williams was awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Bronze) as well as the Order of the Republic of TT, was recognised as a Caribbean icon, and became the first inductee into the Pan Trinbago Hall of Fame.  Later in the programme, valedictorian of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, Anne’el Bain, took a trip down memory lane, noting that some initially struggled to adjust to the rigours of tertiary life.

 

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