A group of musicians from Coastal University South Carolina, USA, several with doctorates, visited TT recently on a familiarisation tour and to learn about pan, the national instrument.
The 13-member group came on the invitation of Trinidad Valley Harps Steel Orchestra from Penal, south Trinidad.
The group visited the Pitch Lake, Gasparee Caves, Maracas Beach, Waterloo (Temple in the Sea) and Tobago. The musicians showed keen interest in the pan as they wanted to learn more about the instrument and the land of its birth.
Pan is not new to them as there is a small steelband at Coastal University, while there are about ten bands throughout South Carolina.
Speaking to Newsday about the recent visit and tour, Trinidad Valley Harps' PRO Selwyn "Fruits" Williams said, “Last year I was invited to Coastal University to do a workshop and lecture on the steelpan, so this was like a reciprocal visit. These people are anxious to learn about TT and the steelpan.
“Trinidad Valley Harps is in rebuild mode. The band has been around since 1963, but has been dormant for a while. Led by Vernon Spooner Flanders, we intend to make it self-sufficient and independent.
“The Penal Police Youth Club has provided us with 40 children to teach how to play pan. We have also added table tennis, chess and drafts to the list of activities for them. This is how we intend to build Valley Harps. It must be a community band.”
Williams said he is urging business people in the area to support the band and is looking forward to working with them.
“We are going to launch a car raffle at the end of this month, a Honda City will be up for grabs as we try to raise funds to carry out the plans and programmes we have on the drawing board,” Williams said.
Trinidad Valley Harps will be competing in the Medium band category for Panorama 2020 and will play Crazy’s The Party Now Start, as arranged by Vanessa Headley.
Headley is on course to create pan history as the first female arranger to work with three steelbands in one year, one small (Golden Hands), one medium (Trinidad Valley Harps) and one large (NGC La Brea Nightingales).