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St Augustine, Tropical Youth tops pan festival
St Augustine Secondary School Steel Orchestra and T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps Youth Steel Orchestra, emerged tops in their respective categories at last Monday’s Biennial Ministry of Education National Junior Steelband Music Festival (NJSMF), at the Jean Pierre Complex in Port-of-Spain. The event was staged by the Pan In Schools Co-ordinating Council. Playing the test piece Dancing With Pan composed by Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, and tune-of-choice, Power of Freedom, composed by their musical director Cheo Cato, the St Augustine band earned top scores in both categories with 1082 points. Under the musical baton of Curtis Jones, Tropical Angel Harps Youth Steel Orchestra took home the top prize in the non-school category.
Their test piece was The Journey, which was also composed by “Boogsie” Sharpe, and their tune-of-choice Love In the Cemetery by Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts). Tropical Angel Harps Youths won the category prize for Best Tune-of-Choice, while the Best Test Piece award went to first runner-up, St Margarets Steel Orchestra. The competition was held in honour of Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and Desmond Waithe. Young arranger Curtis Jones achieved quiet a feat at the festival. Not only did he take T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps Youths to victory, but he accomplished similar feats with San Fernando Girls’ Government, victor in the Primary School Orchestra category and Edinburgh Government the ensemble champs.
“I’ve never done this before. I mean, I’ve won competitions with Edinburg, but to have three (titles) under my belt in the same competition ...wow,” said Jones. On festival day Jones said Tropical Youths did not have all of his attention, citing that he had to monitor the operations of San Fernando Girls’ Government and Edinburgh Government. Jones showered kudos on Nicholas Valley, a senior member of the Tropical Angel Harps, who helped with drilling the youth outfit. He said because of the scheduling of the festival the challenges were many. End of term examinations were in progress and player attendance at rehearsals dipped. Jones and his team had to manage the cultural differences of the pannists, too, towards achieving main objectives.
“But they were determined. The band’s final rehearsal set the pace for victory judging from the atmosphere that pervaded. “I don’t think it could get any better than this...than winning...I just enhanced what was already there, in terms of the talent,” he said. He called on the powers-that-be to host more presentations for junior pannists to showcase their skill and dexterity, and for educators to revisit pan on the curriculum to allow children with that innate talent to find themselves and take their place.
Secondary Schools Orchestra
1 St Augustine Secondary Steel Orchestra, 1082.
2 San Fernando West Secondary, 974.
1 T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps, 1094.
2 St Margarets Steel Orchestra, 1091.
3 Trinity All Generation Steel, 1053.
4 Tobago Serenity Vibes, 1011.
5 Starlift Junior Steel Orchestra, 1000.
6 Tamana Pioneers, 978.
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