The qualifying round of competition for the 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan & Jazz Festival takes place on Sunday evening, at 5 pm, Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain. Thirteen ensembles, comprising steelpans and conventional instruments, will face the panel of distinguished judges.
The Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan & Jazz Festival, an annual fund-raising venture produced by the Queen’s Royal College Foundation, was conceptualised to “present a unique pot pourri of musical influences through the central themes of the steelpan instrument and jazz genres, by inviting jazz legends to journey to T&T to indulge their artistic palates in the birthplace of the steel pan. Fundation committee member Mortimer Baptiste says: This has resulted in a musical conversation between two unique artistic expressions, taking music-lovers on a global musical tour, through the expressions of full orchestras, to smaller steel ensembles, and avant-garde crossover artistes.”
The developmental workshops for young musicians, where the aspiring youth of the nation are exposed to several opportunities to enhance their music literacy skills, has been, and continues to be a main item on the festival’s agenda. This segment includes all types of conventional musical instruments. However, it certainly does not omit the steel pan, and provides the young people with a one on one, hands on experience with tertiary level music tutors, steel pan and jazz greats, in a series of workshops held at strategic venues, to accommodate participants from all areas throughout the country.
This year, the lead and assistant workshop facilitators are Charlie Sepulveda, a music professor; and Gabriel Rodridguez, who teaches electric and acoustic bass, both resident at the Conservatory of Music, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
After several successes in the above format, last year, amidst the SoE/curfew, which increased the Foundation’s numerous internal challenges, the Festival’s determined entrepreneurs decided to further highlight their commitment to the support and future development of the national instrument, by introducing a competitive aspect to the festival—the International Steelpan and Jazz Challenge.
The objectives of this venture are to “deepen the relationship between the T&T Steelpan and Jazz Festival and the steelpan community; and, to, further promote the integration of the steelpan with conventional musical instruments utilising the jazz idiom.
Some of the important areas of the Challenge, which should be understood by pan supporters and patrons, are that it is open to ensembles only. At least 50 per cent of participating ensembles must be playing steelpan instruments, and can be comprised of pan only or a fusion with conventional instruments.
Therefore, a competing ensemble should consist of any mixture of instruments of the steelpan family, in combination with conventional instruments provided there are a minimum of eight, and a maximum of 12 musicians, including the drummer.
Additionally, organisers do not want stakeholders to confuse the direction of this Challenge with Panorama or Pan in the 21st Century. So, it may be also significant to note that the focus will be placed on the ensemble’s ability to take the music chosen and perform the same in a jazz idiom.
A wide ranging list of selections was decided upon after collaborations between the Challenge committee and professional musicians, and was specifically compiled from music composed by Trinbagonians or other Caribbean nationals. Interestingly though, six ensembles have decided on Lord Kitchener selections.
The playing field is level for this competition, no need for small medium and large categories, 12-piece (maximum) ensembles, who will be judged by our own foreign based professionals—Dr Dawn Batson Ph D, who is currently a professor of music and chair of the visual and performing arts at Florida Memorial University; and Ron Reid, an associate professor of contemporary writing and production at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The Challenge will run in two phases, Sunday’s qualifying round, a “bring your cooler and come experience,” where the seven highest scoring ensembles, will join one foreign-based ensemble chosen by the challenge committee to contest the finals.
In the event that no foreign based ensemble is chosen; the ensemble placing eighth in the qualifying round will contest the finals, scheduled for Sunday 4 November, where the prizes are as follows: 1st place—$50,000; 2nd-8th Places—$25,000.
The 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan & Jazz Festival—The International Steelpan and Jazz Challenge Qualifying round of competition
The Carnival is Over—Sforzata—Kenneth Guppy
The Carnival is Over—Curepe Scherzando—Arthur Peters
The Carnival is Over—Our Boys—Clive Zanda
Pan Night and Day—Codrington Pan Family—Cary Codrington
Pan Night and Day—Arima Golden Symphony—Terrence BJ Marcelle
Love in the Cemetery—T&T Police Jazz Band
Merchant’s Be Careful—Couva Joylanders—K Mikey Fredricks
Merchant’s Be Careful—Sound Specialists of Laventille—Kareem Brown,
Caribbean Latin music Mambo Inn by Machito—Moyenne— Chantal Esdelle
Caribbean Latin music Mambo Inn by Machito—Golden Hands—Vanessa Headley
Sweet Music by Lord Shorty/Ras Shorty I—UWI Caribbean Contemporary Workshop—Rellon Brown
Magic Drum (Len Boogsie Sharpe)—Renegades—Amrit Samaroo