THE Pan Lara Youth Steel Orchestra comprising boys and girls from TT, Guyana, the Bahamas, Panama and Jamaica performed on the Millennium Stage at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, on May 8.
The group, led by Trinidadian Debbie Lara, played varied selections from reggae, jazz and R&B to Latin and soca, to a capacity audience with a full spectrum of steelband interpretations.
Their repertoire included songs like Sorry by Justin Beiber, Tan Tan by the Fitz Vaughn Bryan Orchestra and Hello by Kees Dieffenthaller, as well as a specially written composition, Tania Maria, by the band’s musical arranger Sheldon Thwaites.
The evening’s presentation ended with Signal To Lara, by Austin “SuperBlue” Lyons.
Von Martin, retired broadcaster at the OAS’ premiere English/Spanish speaking radio station, and now managing director of Caribbeana Communications Inc, said, “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.”
He added that Pan Lara Youth Steel Orchestra is a group of excellent students from the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and has performed internationally, including a visit to South Africa, where they performed for children in Soweto, on a trip which Lara said “has 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.
Accompanying the group on vocals were Gabriella Nguyen and Alexis Turbat. Dancing to the interpretations of Fitz Vaughn Bryan’s Tan Tan and SuperBlue’s Signal to Lara were dancers in costumes from Richard’s Carnival experience, a mas band based in DC.