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Thursday 19 September 2019
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Guiaco Panorama champs need $130,000 for US tour

Anna Noel, artistic director of the Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra, practises with her 
students last Wednesday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE.
Anna Noel, artistic director of the Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra, practises with her students last Wednesday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE.

THE Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra needs $130,000 by Friday to take its Junior Panorama winning students to a musical tour in the United States.

Newsday visited Guaico Presbyterian Primary School, on the Eastern Main Road, Sangre Grande on Wednesday and spoke with principal Indira Rambaran Mohammed who said the Culture Academy for Excellence (CAFE) in Maryland met the steel orchestra
last year for Panorama and fell in love with the junior team from Sangre Grande.

CAFE is a youth-based performing arts programmes that instils discipline for learning, leadership and academic achievement to at-risk children in Maryland.

Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra players raise a cheer after rehearsals on Wednesday.

CAFE invited the steel orchestra to their school in Maryland last year, but because of short notice, the primary school was unable to organise passports and US visas in time. This year, after the orchestra won the primary schools Panorama finals, they were invited again to play at CAFE's graduation in Maryland.

CAFE's graduation is on June 8, but the students will leave on May 31 as they have a jam-packed schedule of performing and touring around Maryland. Originally 15 students were invited to perform, but the school did not want to leave any student out, so 26 students hope to go to the US on Friday.

Mohammed said the school approached the Ministry of Community Development Culture and the Arts for funding and was told it was approved, but the funds would not be released in time for their May 31 flight.

"The Ministry of Culture said that it has been approved but they have not released any funds as yet. Even if we do get it, next week we are supposed to travel," she said.

Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra students during rehearsals.

The school estimates the cost per person would be $6,000. Parents were asked if they could pay for the trip and be reimbursed, but with some parents volunteering to chaperone, it would be difficult for them to pay for the whole trip. CAFE is assisting the school with ground transportation and partial accommodation.

So far the school has raised $40,000 through cooler fetes and donations. They approached corporate TT and government organisations for the remaining funds, but were unable to get money in time.

A Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra student practises on the bass pans.

Now they are asking the public to support by donating money to their First Citizen Bank account: 1181865 or calling the school at 668-0644.

Guaico Presbyterian Primary School is a gem of Sangre Grande. Mohammed's office is filled with trophies and newspaper clippings from the school's accomplishments from mental math, choir, choral speaking, music competitions, jump rope competitions and of course pan.

Anna Noel, artistic director of the Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra, said the students learned to play 11 songs for the trip which include Bruno Mars' Finesse and Uptown Funk, Ultimate Rejects' Full Extreme, Michael Jackson's Human Nature, The Beatles' Yesterday, Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, the pomp and circumstance march and the US and TT anthems.

Members of the Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra during rehearsals at their school on Wednesday. PHTOTOS BY AYANNA KINSALE

"The kids are preparing themselves, working really hard, making sure the job gets done so we have quite a few selections we are going to prepare for when we go to Maryland. There is no turning back now. Please support the kids. They really need to go. The support in cheering them on is really all well and good, but we need the financial support," Noel said.

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