Exodus cops 2nd world title
Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2005
By Terry Joseph
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Sagicor Exodus manager Ainsworth Mohammed holds aloft
the trophy awarded his band for winning Sunday night's final
of the World Steelband Music Festival at Madison Square
Guarden in New York - PHOTO: Terry Joseph
In an event pan enthusiasts across the board hailed as an unparalleled success, Sagicor Exodus Steel Orchestra beat all comers at New York's Madison Square Garden to cop its second consecutive World Steelband Music Festival title.
Under the baton of Venezuelan Beltran Jesus Acosta-Ruiz, the Tunapuna-based steelband rendered Rossini's Semiramide, eliciting tremendous applause from the sold out 5,600 seater Paramount Theatre at the world's most popular entertainment venue. But it was not enough to trump the TCL Group Skiffle Bunch, who drew even with Exodus in the Tune-of-Choice category, for its treatment of Len "Boogsie" Sharpe's Echoes of War.
Ben Jackson's theatrical conducting of Skiffle Bunch offered additional visual entertainment but could not help the San Fernando band repeat the clear victory it scored five years ago at the local festival. It was with the test-piece, Pan in A Minor that Exodus forged ahead, albeit by a slim three point lead.
Pelham Goddard's arrangement of the Kitchener calypso did it for Exodus, whose classical work was given its treatment by Acosta and Dr. Pat Bishop, Echoes of War was arranged for Skiffle Bunch by Sharpe and Liam Teague, who played a scintillating cadenza during the band's performance.
Seven bands, four of which came from Trinidad, played before a jury comprising Americans Dr. Eugene Novotney and Dr. Larry Snider and Trininidadian Dr. Ann-Marion Osborne (with Merle Albino-de Coteau as alternate) last Saturday night. The two other Trinidad orchestras, Defence Force and Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille place third and fourth (respectively). Sound Specialists choosing Cary Codrington's From Kumasi to La Trinidad, which featured on the podium the festival's youngest conductor, 20 year old Rudo Forteau.
Another Courts sponsored band, Grenada's New Dimension came in fifth, their tune of choice being Von Suppe's Poet & Peasant Overture, with New York's CASYM placing sixth and Canada's Pan Masters bringing up the rear, in an evening of pan music that left members of steelbands and the audience rapturously congratulating Pan Trinbago. CASYM, which is led by Trinidadian Arddin Herbert, was something of casualty as the band played well but failed to supply a full score to the judges, hampering its chances at increased marks.
Exodus manager Ainsworth Mohammed who, by his own admission, was less than enthusiastic about the resuscitated festival after an attempt to stage it in London, England was scuttled at the eleventh hour, said: "Patrick Arnold and his team really deserve every decibel of applause they received for organising this supper show. It looked more than impossible just six weeks ago but they delivered and did it with style and presented it in a way that matched the prestige of the venue. What they did here is phenomenal."
It was a common theme throughout the evening, as evidenced by thunderous applause every time MC Ian "D Goose" Eligon called attention to the difficulties experienced in attempting to stage the festival at Madison Square Garden. Former Pan Trinbago president Owen Serrette described the event as: "Probably the greatest leap for pan in a long while."
Held under the patronage of TT Consul-General to New York, Dr. Harold Robertson, the audience included Minister in the Culture Ministy Eddie Hart, Permanent Secretary in the Legal Affairs Ministry Lester Efebo Wilkinson, National Carnival Commission (NCC) CEO Clarence Moe, legendary music producer Rawlston Charles and a number of expatriate Trinis, although patronage was not exclusively parochial.
In his welcome address, Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold touched on both the difficulties encountered in staging the festival at The Garden and response to the event. "We were dealing with an alien culture in more ways than one and a set of circumstances that demanded very different approaches than those to which we had become accustomed," Arnold said.
Special awards were made to Clifford Alexis (Co-Director of the NIU Steel Band), Albert Jones (Former President of the National Association of Steelbands of Trinidad and Tobago) and Joyce Quamina (Former Business Manager of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association.)
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