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N.S.O.T.T gets high praise at debut performance

April 12, 2001
By Terry Joseph

AFTER nearly three years since securing Cabinet approval and an interim plagued by a series of false starts, the National Steel Orchestra (NSOTT) finally made its formal debut on May 8, earning high marks from an audience comprising Caricom officials.

Local Culture Minister Ganga Singh compared the sound of the band to World Steelband Music Festival runner-up and reigning Panorama champion, Exodus, his compliment coming after listening to a set that exposed listeners to the orchestra’s versatility and repertoire.

Performing at a cultural show staged poolside at the Ambassador Hotel for Caricom Directors of Youth, the 29-member orchestra, decked in designer outfits supplied by The Cloth, delivered a zesty performance, which included solos by the many virtuosos in the band.

Captain Clarence Morris, better known for his work with current South/Central champions Tropical Angel Harps, said he was pleased with the performance, although there were areas that still needed tightening.

The band opened with Kitchener’s “Pan Night and Day” in swing tempo, then moved to Len “Boogsie” Sharpe’s “Sunday Morning Funk”, the bossa-nova “One Note Samba”, Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain”, John Lenon’s “Imagine”, Ken “Professor” Philmore’s “Pan by Storm”, the pop-Latin “Bailamos” and Chick Corea’s jazzy “Spain”, before closing with a calypso medley that included current hits and yesteryear selections like “Faluma” and “Dis Feeling Nice.”

Apart from Morris, contracted musical arrangers include Jit Samaroo, Clive Bradley, Anthony “Juggy” Rose and Sharpe; all of whom have been working with NSOTT over the past six months. The players, all well-known and accomplished musicians, include Rose, the Witco Desperadoes’ Martin Cain and Cordettes’ arranger Dexter Simon.

Now with a Board of Directors chaired by Trinidadian Dr Dawn Batson (who currently heads the music department of Florida Memorial University) and a full management team, NSOTT is scheduled to embark on an intense promotions campaign.

The management team was appointed with effect from May 1, comprising Franklyn Ollivieri as administrative manager, Nestor Sullivan as operations manager and Pauline Stoute as finance manager. Ollivieri, whose experience transcends his well-known talent on the tenor pan, is a former general manager of Trinidad and Tobago Instruments Limited. He remains a frontline player with the Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove Steel Orchestra.

Sullivan, a former Pan Trinbago education officer, currently manages the widely traveled InnCogen Pamberi Steel Orchestra. He spoke of a series of concerts to be played by NSOTT over the next few months.

The first public showing, a two-hour free concert, takes place in Tobago next Friday. Other concerts are scheduled for Chaguanas, Arima, Port of Spain and San Fernando.

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