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Ray Holman And Starlift Make Music Statement *LINK*
Posted By: When Steel Talks
Date: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, at 11:20 a.m.
Ray Holman And Starlift Make Music and Social Statement
2006 T&T Steelband Panorama Season
Trinidad - In what has to be one of the truly bright and memorable moments of the 2006 panorama season, Ray Holman, the consummate musician and respected panorama winning music arranger, led an undermanned but rejuvenated and revamped Starlift into the 2006 competition. The orchestra surprisingly took the third spot behind the heavily favored Phase II Pan Groove and Trinidad All Stars.
Playing a Ray Holman composition, "If We Really Want," Starlift performed one of the most beautiful pieces of the night. Holman's command of the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic content is reminiscent of some of the past panorama music masterpieces achieved by the late master arranger Clive Bradley. The audience was taken on a music journey that was devoid of stage theatrics and gimmickry but heavy on solid musical proficiency that intertwined the sensibilities of the Caribbean.
Holman displayed why he is one of the all-time steelband music greats. Ray has always had a unique musical voice and style that is clearly identifiable and all his own. His music, like Bradley's, transcends the boundaries of the steelband or steel orchestra. His ability to set up the audience for his seamless and thoughtful transitions again invokes memories of Bradley.
Ray was obviously able to impresses his attention to detail and discipline on the group's performance. The audience was taken through a musical tapestry of the musical traditions and cross-section of the Trinbago music culture (Indonesia, China, Africa, Persia) - as if to connect with all the people of the twin-island state and say "we are all in this together," a central theme to this song. This was musical story telling at it's best.
Holman obviously made a conscious decision not to get too caught up in the hype of panorama, opting to use a midrange tempo that was lively and simultaneously allowed the listeners, audience and judges to absorb the intricate details of his arrangement. Starlift went back to the basics of a great panorama performance - great sounding instruments, proficient and dynamic playing and strong musical content that will stick in the minds of the audience and make them say "wow - that was nice!"... Ray accomplished all of the preceding on panorama night.
From a musical perspective, Holman's handling of the minor mode - while not as gutting wrenching or as emotionally charged as Clive Bradley - was no less compelling and thought-provoking. His cleverly placed wide harmonic spreads and rhythmic interplay invoke a large range of colors that demonstrates Ray's mastery and command of the steelpan family of instruments. Moreover, Ray's knowledge of story-telling through music invokes a response that embraces the human condition. His majestic counterpoint usage across the orchestra and avoidance of trivial or unexplainable motifs is awesome.
What makes Starlift''s coming third so remarkable is that only a year ago Starlift came in dead last in 2005's national preliminary competition. A tough pill for any music organization to swallow in Trinidad and Tobago, home to some of the finest orchestras in the world. This once-proud and toast-of-the-town organization was demoralized by it's then-current status. Ray Holman - a staple from the glory years of Starlift when the group ruled Trinidad (and none ever since) - was asked to lead to the group back into musical prominence. Clearly by this panorama performance Ray Holman has accomplished that and much more. He brought credibility and music to Starlift and the panorama
Panorama 2006 In Review
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