Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Harrydass shares musical talent with Norwegian youths
For years the steelband has won international acclaim, and in Norway one man has taken it upon himself to fly the T&T colours.
Clifton Harrydass has undertaken his teaching the T&T national instrument to Norwegian youths.
For the last three years, Harrydass, 40, has worked with the Nordic Black Theatre as one of its musical directors.
The San Fernando-born musician has been playing pan for over 19 years and performs a wide range of genres including rock, classical, jazz, funk and pop.
Harrydass is well travelled and has taken his musical talents to 52 countries, performing for many distinguished people including the Princess of Holland in 2003 and the Prince and Princess of Norway in 2009.
In 2008, he travelled to Malaysia where he represented T&T as the face of the World Rain Forest Music Festival, performing alongside fellow T&T artistes Sheldon Blackman and the Love Circle.
In 2012, history was made in Norway when Harrydass’ music directed the production entitled Legends, which was the first concert and theatre play to deliver sold-out performances at the Norwegian Opera House for three consecutive days.
One of his most recent undertakings as musical director of the theatre is to feature the steelpan at the Norwegian Norske Opera House in Oslo, Norway, in a Tribute to the Heroes concert and theatre play.
The live production, which was written by Cliff A Moustache and held on February 20, was the first 3D production by the theatre and is based on 12 freedom heroes and the ideals for which they stood.
Harrydass, who is in charge of 14 students, said that he is the only steelband musician in his community of Oslo, and the response of the people to the instrument has been nothing short of amazing.
“It’s been amazing to see the steelpan at work with all the genres of music,” he continued, adding that most Norwegians have never seen the pan’s versatility.
Harrydass, however, believes that the steelpan is not given its just due in T&T, and thinks that more should be done locally to increase the support.
“We can learn so much by just opening up. The steelpan is a 21st century musical instrument that is incomparable to any other and yet the love we have for it is seasonal,” he said.
He suggested that T&T invest more in having concerts and productions where the steelpan is featured.
“We need to see the greater levels and not only be a paradise of rhythmic existence once or twice a year.”
Harrydass returns to Trinidad in March where he intends to launch a CD entitled Falling Angel in which the steelpan is heavily featured alongside smooth vocals.
He also plans to do a play in Trinidad called I Do Take My Own Advice Sometimes which deals with the different types of human behaviour.
“I consider myself to be an ambassador of the culture of T&T. I am showing to the Norwegian public that Trinidadians have what it takes to make an impact in any part of the world.”
“We are not just cultured on one level and we can do anything requested of us once given the chance.”
With high hopes for the future of steelpan, Harrydass added that there are no limits to what the instrument can do and the joys it can spread.
“I see the steelpan being starred and featured full in films and I hope that Trinidad can be the first to do it because we cannot step down where art is concerned,” he said.