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When Steel Talks

Countdown to Laventille Steelband Festival 2005

05-08-05

Oscar Pile Remembers
Laventille Steelband Festival 2005 Honoree
 

Trinidad - PAN PIONEER Oscar Pile said he never thought he would have lived to see the steel pan reach where it has today.


At age 82, Pile fondly referred to as Bogart, said he was happy to have witnessed the strides the pan and the people who play the national musical instrument have made.


"Pan has more places to go in the future," declared the legendary steelband leader.


He reminisced about Pan Am North Star's interpretation of "Voices of Spring" and Casablanca's rendition of "1812 Overture," and said "I could not imagine pan playing songs like these - classical songs."


Pile added that on his travels to the United Kingdom and the United States of America, he witnessed the responses of the people to the steelpan and from his estimation they appreciate the instrument.


Pile, who was a member of  famed steel orchestra Casablanca, was at the time commenting about the decision of the Laventille Steelband Festival (LSF) Committee to honour him for his contribution to the development of the steelband at this Sunday's (Aug 7) sixth annual LSF Street Parade. Under the theme "Proud To Be...Laventille," Pile will join six other Laventille honorees for the occasion.


The awards ceremony forms part of the popular pan parade which takes place along the Eastern Main Road, Laventille between Mc Allister Street heading east to Leon Street.


Pile said: "I feel appreciated by my community. Certainly, it is not the first time I have received an award for my involvement in pan. At age 82, I am a lecturer in the history of the steelpan. I have been invited to lecture on the steelpan around the world. I also work with Pan Trinbago's history and education department. I have worked with every steelband president."  Since the start of Festival, Pile has been a special guest of the committee and has witnessed former Pan Trinbago presidents Sydney Gallop, Roy Augustus and the late Arnim Smith receive their accolades.


Pile described the effort of the organising committee to host Sunday's street parade exclusively to steelband music as an excellent idea. "It took long to happen," he said.


Full of vitality, Pile said, the almighty GOD had given him the strength to keep going.


A new development at this year's Festival is a salute to the famous Desperadoes Steel Orchestra and its sponsor West Indian Tobacco Company (WITCO) on the celebration of their 40th Anniversary.


In an interview, Anthony Mc Quilkin, deputy manager of Desperadoes said 40 years of sponsorship with one company was not easy to achieve.


He explained: "It's not easy to stay in a relationship for so long, but it has been years of harmonious relations. WITCO gave us our space to do things the way we thought they should be done, once it did not affect the image of the band and consequently the sponsor."


The steelband official lauded the unswerving support from the people of Laventille and the band's fans around the world.


He made the point that without the people of Laventille, Desperadoes would not have made it to such heights.


"Getting this far took hard work. During Rudolph Charles' period of  leadership, the band rehearsed from Sunday to Sunday. He wanted to change the image of the band. Desperadoes had to compete musically and not by fist," said Mc Quilkin.


He offered kudos to the band's technical team of pan makers/ tuners and arrangers for their contribution to the band's success.  Mc Quilkin said Desperadoes looked forward to celebrating 40 more years with WITCO and declared the band's intent on stemming the spate of crime in the Laventille area by introducing the youths to the instrument through its pan camp.
 


From the Desk of Communications Director Sean Nero

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