Nurturing the future of pan
Music was the language of celebration for the 84 Pan-in-Schools workshop participants who showed off their talents in a spectacular graduation ceremony held at the Queen’s Hall Auditorium recently in St Ann’s.
The event was a fitting culmination of the music workshops held during the July-August vacation period at venues across Trinidad and sister isle Tobago, which were conducted by the Pan-in-Schools Coordinating Council (PSCC) and sponsored by energy company bp Trinidad and Tobago.
Pan Trinbago vice-president Brian Serrette lauded the initiative: “I have to start off by commending PSCC and bpTT for continuing to support the development of youth in music. I was excited by this year’s innovation workshop because it was in that atmosphere that the steelpan was born. We have to stop viewing our national instrument as simply one that can be played, and look at the industry that can be created around it. We need scientists, manufacturers, tuners, arrangers and a host of other professionals. I challenge you graduates to think ‘outside of the pan’ and become innovators and take up your role as future world steelpan leaders.”
The workshop participants were schooled in various disciplines associated with the workshops in Music Composition, Panorama Arranging, as well as Creativity, Innovation and Invention. The highly interactive sessions were conducted by the PSCC’s cadre of highly trained and accomplished coordinators and facilitators who utilised an effective combination of theoretical training with practical application of the skills learned.
Ronda Francis, corporate responsibility manager, bpTT, explained the company’s support of this compelling project: “We have partnered with the PSCC since 2004 because we share their vision of transforming the future by empowering young people, in this case through music. BPTT has a longstanding association with the steelband movement and the PSCC initiative is an extension of our continued support of the industry. These workshops play an important role in the development of professionals who will help expand the boundaries of the steelpan.”
The graduation featured inspiring performances by each of the workshop groups, punctuated by messages from Patricia Adams, PSCC president; Juliette Jones, curriculum officer, Ministry of Education; and featured speaker Khion De Las, who was among the first batch of participants to benefit from the bpTT-sponsored workshops in 2004 and who currently holds a Master’s degree in Music from the Northern Illinois University.
“I was there when bpTT came on board and the Pan-in-Schools workshops exposed me to a new world of music and started off a journey that has defined me as an individual. I left our shores to develop my expertise and now I’m back and contributing to the development of the next generation of local musicians. I’ve met musicians from all over the world and I can say that Trinidad and Tobago has the most talented. You all are living proof of that and I hope you join me in shaping the future of music,” De Las urged the graduates.
Barely able to contain her excitement was 16-year old Naparima Girls’ High School Form Six pupil, Akilah Gomez, who was one of eight recipients of special awards for outstanding performance. “I did music for CXC and this workshop has inspired me to continue to develop as a musician, but more importantly, as a citizen contributing to the progress of Trinidad and Tobago. This experience was unforgettable and I would encourage young people to enrol and get exposed to a world of music they never knew existed. I thank bpTT and PSCC for giving me this wonderful opportunity to shape the future of music,” said an enthralled Gomez.