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Exodus tops night one of bands semi-finals
Posted By: News
Date: Thursday, 17 October 2002, at 3:41 a.m.
By Terry Joseph
Playing a 21-minute version of Tchaikowsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” and test-piece "Pan Talent" by The Mighty Terror, Exodus Steel Orchestra scored 536 points to surge ahead of group one in the semi-final round of the current World Steelband Music Festival (WSMF II).
Exodus manager Ainsworth Mohammed expressed satisfaction with the band’s performance, saying it did not mean that anyone had earned a rest, as the band was going all out to take the world title.
"This has been a long haul," Mohammed said. "And we would like to publicly thank Pat Bishop for her involvement with the band. Since the first festival (2000) she had been urging us to do "Romeo and Juliet" but back then we felt there was not enough time to do justice to the work.
"This time around we started early enough. We have been rehearsing since April. It has been six months of most nights per week at first and nightly when it came down to the last two months. The results at this stage are a vindication of that effort. We are hoping that complete gratification will come on Saturday night at the final," Mohammed said.
For its rendition of "Romeo and Juliet", the band was conducted by Venezuelan Jesus Acosta and topscored with 263. Pelham Goddard took them through the test-piece for which the Tunapuna-based band culled 273 points.
The only foreign band participating on night one, France’s Calyps’Atlantic came away with a total of 476, placing them seventh in the night’s standings, beating locals Sforzata and Moods.
With their tune of choice "Leve" composed, arranged and conducted by Blandy Bruno and Trinidad-born Tommy Crichlow conducting his arrangement of "Pan Talent", the band gave a crisp account of itself, with 12-year-old bass player Morike and tenor pannist Maimouna, 9, sharing public interest with percussionised Malika Bennounene.
Captain Mokhtar el Mokhtari later told the Express: "Much of the joy was just being here in the land of the steelpan and playing alongside the famous and great names in steelband music."
The TT Defence Force Steel Orchestra’s rendition of Tchaikowsky’s "5th Symphony/ 4th Movement" under Deryck Nurse, and Ricardo Dennis’ spirited work with them on the test-piece earned the military rich applause and a total of 512 points to come in second.
The night’s most pleasant surprise came from Gary Straker’s Pan School, who performed last, many missing its complete rendition of Richard Wagner’s "Rienzi", as midnight approached. Featuring an all-female bass section and its players decked out in lilac tops and black pants, the band was conducted by formally attired Renwick Lewis and executed its work effectively and ended just one point shy of Defence Force.
A re-energised Valley Harps Steel Orchestra, conducted by former Phase II Pan Groove captain Michelle Huggins-Watts (who also arranged the band’s music), came in fourth with 493 points, its tune of choice being Len "Boogsie" Sharpe’s "Dance of the Douens".
Night one of the contest was played out before a pitifully small crowd at the Jean Pierre Complex in Port of Spain. Among the notables present were former President Noor Hassanali and wife Zalayhar, Community Development Minister Joan Yuille-Williams and Minister in the Culture and Tourism Ministry Eddie Hart; who were hosted by Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold and festival acting chairman Lt Col Colvin Bishop.
Last night at the final qualifying round, reigning WSMF champions TCL Playing the Group Skiffle Bunch was scheduled to enter its first bid at retaining the title, when the second round of semi-finals for orchestras ran at the same venue.
Eight bands will be selected from the 18 hopefuls for Saturday’s grand final.
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