Naps Combined pannists soar with One Love

Naps Combined Steel Orchestra performs a medley of Bob Marley gems in keeping with the One Love
theme of the concert. PHOTOS BY Yvonne Webb
Naps Combined Steel Orchestra performs a medley of Bob Marley gems in keeping with the One Love theme of the concert. PHOTOS BY Yvonne Webb

The sweet sound of pan music filled the Naparima Bowl as Naps Combined Steel Orchestra demonstrated its love for the national instrument in its first concert, One Love.

In keeping with the Bob Marley-themed concert, the orchestra, still high from its second-place victory in this year’s Secondary Schools Junior Panorama, opened with a few Marley gems.

Combined with the tassa and harmonium, showing real unity, adding a jazz element with a horn section, courtesy members of the Army Band, and its arranger Shaquille Vincent – an army man himself – the youngsters fascinated patrons by showing off their versatility with the pan in adapting to the different genres of music on March 22.

There were few vacant seats in the auditorium, as the success of the orchestra, now seven years old, has won over the disbelievers who were at first reluctant to allow their children from the two “prestige” schools – Naparima Girls’ High School (NGHS) and Naparima College – to play the pan.

Naps Combined, the brainchild of retired NGHS music teacher Bernadette Roberts, has won the Secondary Schools Junior Panorama competition twice, in 2019 and 2023.

It has achieved numerous second places, including in its inaugural competition in 2018. This year, the San Fernando-based band was dethroned by another south band, Penal Convent, by two points.

Amassing 273 points, Naps Combined tied with Providence Girls’ and Queen’s Royal College’s combined orchestra, Providence-QRC Steel Orchestra, for second place.

Retaining pride of place is on the cards, however, for 2025. Since its inception in 2017, Heritage Skiffle Steel Orchestra opened not only its Coffee Street, San Fernando, panyard to the schools, but allowed the free use of its instruments.

From the beginning, Unipet and its chairman Dr Afraz Ali have been the band’s most ardent financial supporters.

After its many triumphs, the orchestra is now looking to take a giant leap to buy and own its instruments. Hence the concert, was its first fundraiser towards this goal.

Singer Noelle Archer teams up with her niece Aria Chan to perform The
People I love.

NGHS dean and host of the evening’s concert Naomi Adonis-Woodsley explained this to the audience, thanking them for helping to acquire the orchestra’s own pans.

Lending his musical competence to the concert was Naps old boy, D Pan Man Joshua Regrello, who left the audience wanting more than he had time to deliver.

In keeping with the love theme, singer Noelle Archer teamed up with her niece Aria Chan to perform The People I Love.

Naps College teacher Kadir Mohammed also showed his love with some classics, as he left the stage and wended his way through the aisle, getting the audience to sing along with him, I Want You Back, Rock with Me and Black Man Feeling to Party. Accomplished singer Krisson Joseph also had the audience singing along with him.

Tokens of appreciation were given to former San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello, CEO of Skiffle, and Ali for their unwavering support.

Roberts as well as teacher Kathy Ann Cedeno-Cook, who has managed the band since Roberts’s retirement, were acknowledged and rewarded for their dedication.

Cedeno-Cook has also taken early retirement but remained committed to see the band through its concert. Door prizes galore were distributed, and students in the audience who had sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam on March 21 were rewarded with special prizes.


"Naps Combined pannists soar with One Love"

More in this section