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New steelband body formed

Published: 
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Representing the five steelbands of the International Steelband Foundation, from left, are Nigel Williams, Martin Cain, Michael Marcano, Len "Boogsie" Sharpe and Ainsworth Mohammed.

On Wednesday, five of the nation’s top steel orchestras officially launched the International Steelband Foundation (ISF) at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. The Company’s five founding steelbands are Massy Trinidad All Stars, Desperadoes, bpTT Renegades, Phase II Pan Groove in partnership with Hadco and Republic Bank Exodus.

At Wednesday’s launch, interim chairman Renegades’ Michael Marcano said: “We want to make it abundantly clear we are not considering usurping the role of Pan Trinbago.” He added: “The aim of the Foundation is to develop mutually beneficial opportunities for its members and to promote more collaboration between progressive bands throughout the year. It is also the objective of the Company to include bands from across the globe and to market steelpan music, the instrument and the musicians internationally. Bringing our bands together under one flag, will make it possible to share ideas and skills and work at making those ideas come to life as a team.”

Joining Marcano at the head table at Wednesday’s launch were representatives of the steelbands, including Nigel Williams (Trinidad All Stars); Martin Cain (Desperadoes); Allison Harper (Phase II); and, Ainsworth Mohammed (Exodus).

Formed in 2010 with assistance by late attorney Theodore Guerra, the ISF is a non-profit organisation and its mission statement includes providing research and development to materials and acoustics and development of new pan tuners; providing advice on the marketing internationally of the players, the instrument and the music; to organise youth programmes in steelbands and to promote musical literacy among players; to access funding from International Funding Agencies; to produce, promote and stage concerts, festivals and other events; to manufacture and sell steelpan instruments including a chroming facility; and, to organise training courses, seminars, workshops on aspects of the steelpan industry.

The ISF has begun communicating with a company out of Japan to produce prototype pan stands. These would be used on a trial basis to determine their adequacy and, if the price is right, market them commercially. In this regard, the ISF plans to do examine the possibility of producing T-shirts and steelpan paraphernalia for the benefit of all steelbands which may be interested.

About concerns that the ISF is considering usurping Pan Trinbago’s role, Marcano said: “On the contrary, it is our intention to collaborate with the governing body. We must also make it clear that the International Steelband Foundation is not restricted to just the original bands which established the Company. Our Company is an all-inclusive one and, in due course, affiliate membership would be open to all steelbands who are progressive in their vision. How this is determined would be made public as soon as we get our consultants advice on this matter.”

Consultant advisprs to the ISF are Martin Daly SC, Terrence Farrell, Ingrid Lashley, Professor Brian Copeland, Hollick Rajkumar and Dennis Ramdeen.

The first major project by the ISF is Big 5: The Pan Concert, scheduled for Saturday, July 22 at the Queens Park Savannah, at 7 pm. The concert would feature Trinidad All Stars, Desperadoes, Renegades, Phase II and Exodus. Each band would be allotted 35 minutes playing time and would include guest artistes.

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