While the three-week Steel Pan Revival Workshop ended on Thursday, December 10 it is hoped that it is just the beginning of a new era in Montserrat’s affection for the only musical instrument created in the 20th Century.
The workshop was a collaboration with the Montserrat Arts Council and the Basic Needs Trust Fund to the tune of EC$130,000+ for procuring pans and other instruments, and engaging Pan Trinbago to execute the training component.
Mervin Browne of BNTF said due to COVID-19 the consultants from Pan Trinbago were unable to deliver the workshops themselves. Veron Henry and Robert Simmons from Hells Gate Steel Orchestra in Antigua & Barbuda were contracted to execute the project which included pan construction, tuning, musical arrangements, pan technique and music theory.
The course included first time pan players as well as others who played in school or currently perform with the Volpanics and Genesys Steel orchestras. Robert Simmons, who also taught a combined class for primary school, said he was pleasantly taken back by the enthusiasm shown and the number of newbies who joined the workshop. “Montserrat has a bright future,” he said. He encouraged the performers to push forward in music theory and become the best musicians they can.
Dorothy White, who was the oldest player in the programme at 76 and six months said she had “the best three weeks of her life taking the classes.” She commended the instructors for their patience and she was happy that she stuck with it despite the challenge in keeping up on the tenor pan.
The pan construction group turned 55 gallon drums into three pans. Henry said 80% of the labour was completed by the students and he provided the final 20 to refine the drums. Henry said this project should not end here as participants need to continue to raise their game in pan playing, technique and pan construction. He added that he hopes his influence will encourage Montserrat to build the art form to the level where it they can compete with the rest of the world.
The instructor, who also heads Pan Zone Plus in Antigua, commended Herman Cupid Francis and Stevin Elwin for their work to keep steel pan alive on Montserrat. He encouraged students to continue to play.
Mervin Browne from the BNTF said the long term vision is to find a home for the pans and he joined officials from the Montserrat Arts Council in stating that they would like to see the government support the creation of a National Steel Orchestra.
At the closing ceremony, all of the participants performed the pieces they worked on during the programme. They also received certificates of completion from the BNTF and MAC. Another certificate from Pan Trinbago will come at a later date, Browne shared.
Veron Henry presented pan sticks to all of the lead (tenor pan) players. Henry and Robert Simmons also received gifts for their hard work in helping to improve pan knowledge on Montserrat.
Enjoy the performances below recorded at the closing ceremony.
More photos available on our Facebook page.
Joint Primary Steel Pan
Beginners Steel Pan
Present their daily exercise and Winter Wonderland Excerpt.
Mission Impossible theme song
Listen to the ZJB Radio interview – https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2020/12/11/friday-december-11-2020-bntf-sponsored-steel-pan-revival-project-wrap-up/