The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) is well underway to rekindling the National Youth Steel Orchestra in time for a grand performance in November. Last Friday, September 3, sixty students separated in groups of 10s, completed a three-week steel pan workshop at St Leonard’s Boys School.
The students in the workshop comprised of pre-teen music and steelpan enthusiasts, teenaged music and steelpan players and community group players.
Chief Executive Officer of the NCF Carol Roberts-Reifer said the workshop was part of a larger effort to ensure the National Youth Steel Orchestra remains relevant and viable.
“This is all in an effort to get the Orchestra functioning on a full-time basis. Therefore, the NCF felt it necessary to create a pool of willing and capable participants to be identified and groomed together to ensure the quality of the initial programme is high as well as to set a benchmark for those to come in the future to aspire to and beyond.”
The NCF workshop was facilitated by musical director Lowrey Worrell, who was assisted by Mark Forde and Omar Haynes. Worrell explained that the programme is focused on developing musical literacy.
“We want to create an interest for pan playing. We know that there are persons who are interested but we know that they don’t have the tools or the pans to be able to play. We don’t just want persons to come and play pan and go home. We are more interested in the development of pan.”
He added: “We want them to understand there is a musical element to it. The programme is to bring new and beginning players to a certain level and to help them understand the instrument and its history.
For the intermediate to advance class, for them it is a bit more challenging as we teach them techniques. We hope that this would inspire them to keep playing pan and that they will go on to join the National Steel Orchestra.”
The workshops were tutored by Petra Welch, Ashkiela John, Ashley Webster, Richard Smith, Dwain Gill and Ryan Blackman while the librarians were Dwight Callender and Paul Forde.
From Saturday, September 18, will see the second part of the training programme with weekly practice sessions geared toward the November showcase to celebrate Barbados’55th Anniversary of Independence along with its Republic status.
At the end of the process, players will be selected to be a part of the rekindled 150-member Orchestra.
The NCF’s workshop was centred around the learning of proper technique and maintenance on pans as well as the learning of basic reading of music. The workshop is in keeping with the NCF’s mandate to push the developmental aspect of Barbadian culture. (PR)