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Benefit concert to raise funds for gifted pan player

Published: 
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Young pan prodigy Joshua Joseph is raising funds for his next year at Berklee College of Music.

On July 17 at 6 pm, Dare to Dream 3 Vibes will be held at the Central Bank Auditorium. It is the third in a series of benefit concerts to raise funds for young pan player Joshua Joseph who is entering his junior year at Berklee College of Music. This concert is a prime method to get the necessary funds for him to stay in school. 

Joseph grew up in a family involved with music. His mother teaches music at Diamond Vale Primary and at UWI. His father is a drummer with élan parle and Clive “Zanda” Alexander among others. Two of his sisters are in Freetown Collective who will soon release a new album. 

His mother got him involved with pan at age three and she taught him the essentials. He also learned piano and he was in choir, but pan was omnipresent. 

“Throughout my childhood, pan was a mainstay in my life whether it be playing at corporate events and functions to assemblies at school,” Joseph said. 

Indeed, he was active with pan at Diamond Vale Government Primary and later Diamond Vale Youth Steel who represented T&T at the 2010 Aberdeen International Youth Festival, Scotland. He attended Woodbrook Secondary and his first Panorama experience was Junior Panorama 2009 was with them. He became captain of the steelband and he also continued his formal music studies. 

“My mother ensured that I became musically literate and worked with me on improving my music theory and then applying it to my instruments, ‘forcing’ me to read sheet music,” Joseph said. 

“This paid off in the long run...I did Music for my CXC examinations and attained a Grade 1 with pan as my instrument of focus. Subsequently this placed me tenth overall across all Caribbean territories.” 

Recently he performed with Valley Harps and Invaders for Panorama in 2014, as well as the Lydian Steel for Messa da Requiem. He also played pan in the production Jesus Christ Superstar. 

Last summer, he performed with Silver Stars at the ICP hosted in Trinidad, which he found very exciting. 

“Being able to work under one of my inspirations, Liam Teague, is truly an experience I can’t forget and I am permanently grateful!” 

Going to Berklee these last two school years has been a great experience. Joseph has worked closely with Ron Reid, a Trinidad musician who has been an essential part of the faculty at Berklee. Reid has been a crucial link between pan players who want to continue their music education in the United States. For the last several years Reid has worked closely with many young pan players who have come to Berklee. 

“In our classes he (Reid) was helpful with building repertoire by introducing me to various jazz standards that we studied in class, tips on how to approach improvisation and even boosted my reading skills by basically having me sight read each class. He would bring a new tune each class and would just count it off. (He has) also provided me with a number of various performance opportunities. Notably (being able to) perform on his soon to be released album, The Precious Metals Project,” Joseph said. 

Joseph is a major in Music Education, a choice that has really opened his eyes. 

“The Berklee’s Music Education major requires that you to take multiple instrumental classes that are not even your secondary instruments. I’ve been in trombone classes, clarinet classes, euphonium you name it,” Joseph said excitedly. 

“I also get the opportunity to go out into the public and private schools in the Boston area for my methods classes. These classes require you to go to these schools and observe an actual music class whether it’s at the elementary or secondary level...You encounter gifted students, students with behavioural issues, learning disabilities, and language barriers.” 

Financially, going to a prestigious school like Berklee is a constant struggle even with scholarships. Joseph recently received the Percussion Scholarship based on their nominating him. Recently. He has worked at Berklee and also teaches music every summer in Trinidad. 

At the concert, Joseph will feature composers from Tchaikovsky to Strauss, to local composers such as Liam Teague. He also promises a special surprise near the end of the first half. Elan Parle, with his father Richard on drums, will appear in the second half. 

• More info: To purchase tickets for Dare to Dream 3 Vibes, call 724-9857, 758-3641, or 466-2782.

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