SOUL TRAIN AWARD WINNER: Bunji Garlin

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A better festival for all

By Nigel Telesford

NCBA president David Lopez is praising Pan Trinbago and the NCC for “innovating” and “allowing young people to become involved in the various aspects of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival”.
Speaking to the Express on Tuesday, Lopez revealed that his organisation had hired a “total-local cast and crew” to produce the annual Kings and Queens of Carnival competition.
He said: “Pan Trinbago must be congratulated for doing something different and if it didn’t work this time, try something else a next time. Because the reality is that the people who want to go to The Greens would go anyway and the people who want to listen to pan alone would find themselves where they want to be. It’s all about how you find that nexus to create that next generation of panmen and women, just like we are finding the nexus to bring back the interest to the mas.”
“We have young people who have the potential to do things to move us forward and all they need is an opportunity, or a ‘break’ as they say, to do just that! We have hired a total-local cast and crew comprising people who have played Carnival, people who were former kings and queens at the junior and senior levels and now have technical expertise that they are willing to give back.”
The Kings and Queens competition was scheduled to begin yesterday with the senior preliminary round taking place at the Queen’s Park Savannah and will end with another grand finale on “Big Friday” February 28 at the same venue.
Lopez added that the NCBA has retained the services of last year’s producer, multiple king winner and son of the late mas innovator and designer, Geraldo Andrew Vieira, Geraldo Vieira Junior to produce this year’s theme of “Mas World”.
“The person responsible for producing Big Friday last year is Geraldo Vieira Junior and his team and they are all young people, who have risen to the challenge and put on an excellent show last year from all reviews. This year, we have Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons and The Asylum Crew again, as well as Chutney Monarch, KI, the Alternative Quartet and lots of exciting surprises. We are going to delve into the mas world and as the executive producer of this show, the NCBA is delighted to work with this young talented team again this year.”
Asked about various criticisms concerning the change of the traditional date and time of the event and the fact that the grand finale clashes with the staging of the International Soca Monarch competition at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Lopez remained resolute in his rhetoric.
“If you want to lead an orchestra, you have to turn your back to the audience. We cannot expect to lead by sitting in the audience, so all these people who are just making noise from their seats in the audience are entitled to and will probably continue to do so, while those of us who are creating and leading will continue to innovate. Anyone who has ever been to the Kings and Queens show would recognise that the people who attend are not the kind of people who would go to the Soca Monarch event, and if we want to put ourselves on the International stage, we have to play by the international rules. You cannot have a show, a National competition at that, starting at 7 o’clock in the night and finishing quite two in the morning. That is unacceptable in this time.”
He added: “So we have made structural and technical changes that are necessary to advance the production and to innovate the festival with the momentum of the changing times. We have a way here in Trinidad that we sit and we praise everything International, but when we have the opportunity to do it here, we allow it to be mediocre and then criticise it. The NCBA will take all the criticism now in advance, while working hard to ensure that we set an international standard that will be followed and advanced into the future for the betterment of the festival, for the evolution of the art-form and for the enjoyment of the audiences here and abroad.”
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