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Nightingales set to lift La Brea spirits
NGC La Brea Nightingales Steel Orchestra will be carrying the hopes and dreams of an entire community when the band hits the stage in the 2014 Panorama semifinals at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, on Sunday. Although the recent oil spills in La Brea have created some despair and depression in the community, Nightingales members are determined to lift the spirits of residents throughout the region with a performance to take them to the final. The South steelband will be performing once again in the large band category and will be playing the De Fosto’s Pan in the Atmosphere. The tune is arranged by Terrence “BJ” Marcelle, a La Brea son-of-the-soil. His brother Tyrell, who was a founding member of the band in 1974, is the captain and is confident that “great things” are in store for the La Brea outfit this year. “We are going to make La Brea proud when we hit the Panorama stage,” Tyrell said. “We have a winning arrangement that will definitely excite the crowd and we expect to go all the way this year,” he added.
The band captain also boasted about the number of young people in the Nightingales family. He said: “Most of our members are under 25 years old and we also have a large percentage of young women, so the future of NGC La Brea Nightingales is in very good hands.” He also praised the National Gas Company (NGC) for its sponsorship, adding that “since NGC has come on board as our sponsor, the band has gone from strength to strength and we are now getting supporters from all over the country.” In the past three years, Nightingales has grown from the small band to the large band category in the annual Panorama competition. Because of this rapid growth, Nightingales has decided to establish a junior steelband, the La Brea Combined Primary Schools Steel Orchestra. It is preparing for Junior Panorama, which is carded for the Savannah on February 23. Chairman of the Nightingales management committee, Hollis Alexander, is pleased with the support within the community for the junior steelband.
He added: “The response has been great and the community is fully behind us. “We visited the five primary schools between Rousillac and Guapo and we spoke to the principals. “They all gave their support and then we met with the parents who also gave a commitment. “In fact, most of their parents have been coming out to support the kids during practice sessions. One of our main objectives is to use the steelband to build discipline and self-esteem in the youth and already we are seeing signs that this happening.” Alexander believes the band has a major role to play in the community, not only in the promotion of steelband music but also in the overall development of the region. “NGC La Brea Nightingales is one of the few groups in the area that has members from all the various communities. “We also have the young and the old, male and female and we are a genuine community-based organisation,” he said. He said after Carnival the band has a number of initiatives planned, including the construction of a pan theatre which would also serve as a cultural centre for the region.