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Youths keep pan alive at the John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts

Monday, May 14, 2018
Pan Lara at the Kennedy Centre, Washington, D.C. PICTURE JAMES R. JOHNSON III

Pan Lara Youth Steel Orchestra comprising of boys and girls from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, the Bahamas, Panama and Jamaica performed to a hall filled Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, on May 8.

The group, led by Trinidadian Debbie Lara, played varied musical selections from Reggae, Jazz, and R&B to Latin and Soca, to a capacity audience with a full spectrum of steel band musical interpretations.

Their repertoire included songs like Sorry by Justin Beiber, Tan Tan by Fitz Vaughn Bryan Orchestra and Hello by Kes, as well as a specially written composition Tania Maria by the band’s arranger Sheldon Thwaites. The evening’s presentation ended with the performance of Signal To Lara a composition by Super Blue.

The concert was a welcome feature by the Kennedy Center on the Millennium Stage in the Grand Foyer and was attended by a packed audience from all over the world including many of the Trinidadian and Tobagonian parents of the youths as well.

Pan Lara Youth Steel Orchestra is a group of all excellent students in the Washington DC metropolitan area and has performed internationally including a visit to South Africa, where they performed for children in Soweto; a trip according to Debbie Lara, “that changed our lives completely.”

In addition to performing throughout the Caribbean, the youths have performed at many of DC’s signature musical arenas besides the Kennedy Center the Strathmore musical arena as well. Their musical arranger was Sheldon Thwaites.

Accompanying the group on vocals was Gabriella Nguyen and Alexis Turbat. Dancing to the interpretations of Fitz Vaughn Bryan’s Tan Tan and Super Blue’s Signal to Lara were dancers in costume from Richards Carnival experience.


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