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Foreign bands coming for Junior Pan Music Festival

April 11, 2001
By Terry Joseph

FOLLOWING last year’s World Steelband Music Festival for adult bands, the junior version has now gone global as well. Already, seven foreign steel orchestras have confirmed interest in participating in the Schools Steelband Music Festival, which takes place here in November.

This edition of the festival will be in memory of calypso grandmaster Kitchener and in honour of Nervyn Saunders, one of the pioneers of the pan in schools initiative.

Ian “Teddy” Belgrave, chairman of the Pan in Schools Coordinating Council (PSCC) which manages the junior festival, told the Daily Express: “We have had serious approaches from school bands in Washington, Arizona, Cayman Islands, St Lucia, England and Toronto and we are fully prepared to accommodate them.

“The foreign bands understand that they will have to foot their own bills and are quite prepared to meet the complete cost of participation,” Belgrave said. “We will facilitate them as far as is possible. We have structured our group to include a sub committee dedicated to the hospitality and logistics required by foreign participants.”

The festival will be judged in two groups, primary (age 6 – 12) and secondary (12- 21), each subdivided into soloist, ensemble and orchestra categories. Preliminary rounds will take place between November 5 and 9, with judges visiting bands on location to select semi-finalists. The semi-final leg takes place on November 16 and 17 at the Jean Pierre Complex in Port of Spain and the finals of all categories will be held on November 23 at the same venue.

Soloists must play a Kitchener tune as one of two songs required of them at every stage of the contest. Ensembles must select from a list of 12 rhythm and blues pieces, with emphasis on creative improvisations.

At the secondary school level, bands must play a rhythm and blues song, plus the test-piece, a work commissioned from Jit Samaroo called “A Tribute to Kitch”.

Running concurrently with the music festival will be essay, poetry and art competitions in the schools and a television quiz on related matters, a project which has already secured the endorsement and cooperation of the Education Ministry.

“Its all going pretty well so far,” Belgrave said, “although we are still in the market for financial support from the business sector. The Culture Ministry has already pledged its support in this regard.

“We are particularly interested in bringing to the fore the contribution of Nervyn Saunders, as we see him as one of the unsung heroes in the forefront of early and continuing struggles over the past 40 years to get pan in schools.

“Few people are aware of the extent of his work in this area,” Belgrave said. “Saunders came into pan in 1948 at age 11 and since the sixties in Blanchicheuse had been pushing for inclusion of pan on the school curriculum.

“He has worked and toured with several school bands, including the repeatedly successful St Augustine Senior Comprehensive orchestra, although most people only remember his name in association with the Invaders Steel orchestra, for whom he arranged music for many years,” Belgrave said.

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