The year 2011 has been designated the Year of the Steelpan in London, England, and several activities have been planned in commemoration of two historic events. The Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) appeared at the Festival of Britain on the South Bank on July 26, 1951. Ten years later, in May 1961, the Dixieland Steel Orchestra went to the United Kingdom having won the National Steel Band Festival of Trinidad and Tobago.
TASPO was the first national steelband to visit and perform in the United Kingdom with Dixieland Steel Orchestra as the second steel orchestra to visit and the first to perform in Africa. Activities planned include a reception at the offices of the T&T High Commission in celebration of TASPO's Diamond Jubilee and Dixieland's Golden Jubilee which will be attended by Keith Diaz, President of Pan Trinbago. At the function, special awards honoring the heroes and legends who have pioneered and inspired the world steelband movement and contributed to the introduction and development of the steel orchestra in the United Kingdom will be presented to members of both entities.
Recipients include Sterling Betancourt, Miguel Barradas, Trevor Cumberbatch, Alfred Toussaint, Lennox Totesaut, Lennox Langton, Russell Valdez, Michael "Natsi" Contant , Angela Christopher and Sonny Blacks. The programme is being organised by the Commonwealth Arts and Cultural Foundation with support from the High Commission of T&T and will be under the artistic direction of Sonny Blacks, a Trinidad-born impresario. Last month, a similar exercise was organised in Trinidad for Dixieland's "five locally based survivors" of the trip to the United Kingdom and Africa 50 years ago, George Ng Wai, Curtis Pierre, Hady Lee, Billy Carpenter and Mervyn Telfer.