It was so nice they had to do it twice. This was the case with the NGC National Junior Arts Festival 2011 Pan Ensemble champs Success Laventille Secondary School Steelband. This time, however, in the words of arranger Mickiel Gabriel “it is very special…this victory is for Bertie,” in reference to the late pan icon Bertie Marshall.
Their tune of choice was Pan in A Minor, which gained them a Certificate of Excellence and a place in the Command Performance. Their panmanship gave one the impression that many of the players enjoy an affinity with the neighbouring Courts Laventille Sound Specialists Steel Orchestra. The piece, Toco Band, was played by one other band in the secondary level—Mason Hall Secondary of the sister isle Tobago —a Gerard Balfour interpretation.
Success came up against ten other bands which got beyond the preliminary stages. San Fernando West Secondary, “Old Tech” as they are fondly called, rendered Sean Ramsey’s arrangement of Toco Band, the second most popular selection between the primary and secondary schools. Old Tech appeared to have been leading in points until the defending champs, Success Stars, hit the stage.
St Benedicts College, with Dike Sami’s arrangement of Toco Band, was another note-worthy challenger. The top four bands received Certificates of Excellence including Bishop’s High School from Tobago which did Rain O Rama, arranged by Dante Pantin.
Special mention must be made of the tonal quality of the pans of Miracle Ministries High School and their orchestration and interpretation of Toco Band.
The other bands which were awarded Certificates of Merit together with their tunes of choice and arrangers were:
Fyzabad Secondary—Pan in A Minor —Darren Shepherd;
San Fernando West Secondary—Toco Band—Sean Ramsey;
Marabella South Secondary—Bees Melody—Miguel Camps;
Miracle Ministries—Toco Band— Alea Nicholson;
Holy Faith Convent Couva—Symphony in G—David Sylvester;
St Anthony’s College—Bees Melody —Jeremy Charlerie;
Mason Hall Secondary—Pan in A Minor—Gerard Balfour;
St Joseph Secondary—Toco Band—Brandon Valley.
At the primary school level Akinola Sennon went ahead of the pack with his arrangement of Kitch’s Toco Band. In a juxtaposition of Panorama cum Music Festival style the arranger appeared so instructive that he had the audience virtually eating out of his hand. They were the only primary school band to have earned a Certificate of Excellence.
Other bands which were recipients of Certificates of Merit were:
Diego Martin Boys’ RC—Sugar Bum Bum—Alexis “Leaky” Hope;
St Catherine’s Girls’ RC—Symphony in G—Avis Bruce;
San Fernando Girls’ AC—Pan in Yuh Ruckunkutunkung—Sean Ramsey;
Princes Town Methodist—Pan in A Minor—Pete Braxton;
Grant Memorial Presbyterian—Pan in A Minor—Hudson Henry
Bonne Accord Government—Mister Fete—Zobah Samuel
The judges were Cuthbert Matthew, Junior Howell, Gloria Sargeant, Lorna Conyette, and Lennox London.
Prize distribution will be at the Command Performance at Naparima Bowl on November 20 (primary school) and November 21 (secondary schools).