One of the more unique events of the upcoming International Conference and Panorama is a concert on August 7 by Pastiche Steel Ensemble.
The concert will be held at the Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt Hotel in Port-of-Spain starting at 8 pm and feature the American-based Pastiche Steel Ensemble. The steelband features a number of leading pannists from the USA, Japan, and Jamaica, led by Trinidad's own Mia Gormandy.
The globalisation of pan is a major impetus for the International Conference and Panorama and the concert by the Pastiche Steel Ensemble fits the bill, taking pan global and to virtual realities never before seen or heard. The concert will feature original compositions for steelband by members of the band as well as calypso, pan classics, and a very hot contemporary work by the renowned American composer Andy Akiyo, whose new concerto for steelpan and orchestra premiered in May, by Liam Teague and the National Symphony, to rousing success.
The highlight of the evening will surely be the Pastiche Steel Ensemble's premiere of their "virtual steelband."
Bandleader Mia Gormandy conceived of the idea after hearing and watching the work online of composer Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir which was started in 2009 and quickly became a viral internet sensation. The concept of the virtual steelband is simple; you have a piece of music that is notated with special detail given to rhythm and dynamics.
Participants from all over the world are invited to add their voice by recording themselves performing the composition and then uploading the video track online. A team of engineers then works to combine the individual performances to create a seamless collage out of the many disparate parts, a completed composition. The Virtual Choir has evolved into a global sensation and for a performance at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 the ensemble featured 2,292 singers from 80 different countries.
Gormandy recognised that the concept of a "virtual" band was perfect for steelband and she took the idea to the Pastiche Steel Ensemble in early 2014. The band responded with enthusiasm and has since been working hard to put the virtual steelband concept into reality.
Since a virtual steelband is unlike any other steelband, the Pastiche Steel Ensemble decided to commission Liam Teague to create Belle, a new composition especially for the band. Participants in the Pastiche Steel Ensemble's virtual steelband now come from Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Finland, France, Jamaica, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, T&T, and the United States.
The Pastiche Steel Ensemble was formed in 2009 as a small stageside steelband by graduate students at Northern Illinois University.
The principle members of the band are current and former Northern Illinois University Steelband members seeking another outlet to perform, ramajay, and to explore a vast range of challenging arrangements and original compositions for contemporary steelband.
From the band's inception, the Pastiche Steel Ensemble has performed regularly throughout the Midwest and the continental United States including the Illinois Day of Percussion, the Generations of Steel concert and several school appearances in connection with the Chicago Youth Symphony's Music Pathways programme.
As a result of their inspiring work, the Chicago Youth Symphony has since created its own steelband. The upcoming concert on August 7 will be the Pastiche Steel Ensemble's first international performance.
The size of the Pastiche Steel Ensemble fluctuates from performance to performance. The band does, however, have a core group of principal players that shape the identity of the band. Principal members include founder and director Mia Gormandy, who is no stranger to the pan world as she started playing at age five and won her first competition at age six. She has since performed in Australia, Austria, England, Canada, throughout the US, and several countries in the Caribbean. Yuko Asada is a steelpan educator, performer, builder, tuner, arranger, and transcriber. She is also one of the leading transcribers for pan compositions, especial complex panorama arrangements. Jamaican David Aarons performed with steelbands in Jamaica before moving to Trinidad to learn pan tuning, eventually earning his BA in music from UWI–St Augustine, and also got his masters in steelpan performance from NIU.
Yuki Nakano is a Japanese pannist who has been coming to Trinidad to play with bands at Panorama for nearly a decade. She has also performed sold out concerts throughout Tokyo and Yokohama as a pannist. Scott McConnell is an active percussion/steelpan performer and educator. In addition to his pan studies, McConnel earned a second master's degree in Recording Arts at NIU and works now as a audio and video engineer. Abe Breiling is a Chicago-based performer and educator. Along with his work with the Pastiche Steel Ensemble, Breiling owns the business Musical Steel where he creates compositions and arrangements for steelband and builds steelpan stands and accessories.
For pan fanatics and anyone who wants to hear pan moving beyond our solar system, this is a great chance to hear fabulous music at the highest level. As a word of caution, so far there are no robots as part of the band and only "real" or "virtual" human pan players will be performing, though some will not be actually present.
Intl Conference and Panorama
August 1 – Cal Invaders 75th anniversary celebrations
This event will be held in commemoration of CAL Invaders' 75th anniversary.
Time: All Day
August 4–International Conference on Pan Opening Ceremony
August 5–ICP Steelpan Village–Grand Opening
Queens Park Savannah, PoS
August 5–International Conference on Pan–Day 2
August 6–International Conference on Pan–Day 3
August 7–International Conference on Pan–Day 4
August 8–Pastiche Steel Concert
Hyatt Regency at 8 pm
Single Pan Day
Queens Park Savannah,
Port-of-Spain at 3 pm
International Panorama Competition
Queens Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain at 3 pm
�2 Ray Funk is a retired Alaskan judge who is passionately devoted to calypso, pan and mas. Dr Andrew Martin is an ethnomusicologist, percussionist, pannist, and Professor of Music at Inver Hills College in St Paul, Minnesota.