Global - It is now official, Duvone Stewart will take the BP Renegades Steel Orchestra to the Savannah for Panorama 2K12. The popular Charlotte Street band has won the national competition on nine occasions (including a hat-trick between 1995 and 1997) with arrangements by its former musical director, Dr. Jit Samaroo. Since Dr. Samaroo’s retirement in 2007, the band has been out of the top three placings but according to its President, Michael Marcano, it is determined to stick to its policy of using home-grown arrangers. Amrit Samaroo, son of Dr. Samaroo, worked on the band’s panorama arrangements in 2008 and 2009; Kenneth Guppy took over in 2010 and 2011. “Now it is Duvone’s turn to show what he is made of,” quipped Marcano. Amrit, Kenneth, and Duvone are all former players with the band and together with Desmond Waithe, have worked on the band’s stage-side, Pan in the 21st Century, and Steelband Music Festival presentations since Jit’s retirement.
Duvone Stewart hails from Tobago. He came to Trinidad at the age of eighteenth and became a member of the Renegades Steel Orchestra. He was schooled in music theory and practical piano from the age of six and learnt to master the steel pan at age eight, playing with the Tobago All Stars Steel Orchestra. In 1986, he won the Trinidad and Tobago Television’s 12 & Under Competition and was awarded a trip to Disney Land. This trip motivated him to enter the Trinidad and Tobago Steel Pan Junior Soloist Competition in 1987 where he placed fifth.
Since then, Duvone has participated in and won several soloist competitions including the Trinidad and Tobago Teen Talent Competition, the Tobago Music Festival, and the San Fernando Music Festival - which he won four years in a row from 1989 to 1992. In 1992, he also participated in the Trinidad and Tobago School’s Music Festival as a soloist and placed third. He followed this in 1993 with an appearance at the World Steel Pan Festival where he placed fifth.
In 1995, Duvone won Tobago’s Scouting for Talent Competition, and later that year, the Trinidad and Tobago Pan Ramajay Soloist Competition, as well as the AVM Steel Pan Soloist Competition. The following year he placed 2nd in the Pan Ramajay Competition and the soloist category of the World Steel Pan Festival, two competitions he subsequently went on to win in 1998, 2000 and 2002.
Duvone Stewart started his own band, the NFM Pantasy, a six-piece steel ensemble in 2000 and thus began his career as an arranger. In 2001, he arranged for the single pan band, La Horquetta (L. H.) Pan Groove in the Trinidad and Tobago National Panorama Competition, and has since piloted them to five consecutive Panorama titles between 2007 and 2010 (the only arranger to achieve this feat in the history of the Competition). In 2011 he again won the competition, this time arranging for the San Juan East Side Symphony Steelband.
Duvone has arranged for several other conventional steelbands in Trinidad and Tobago including Merrytones, Solo Pan Knights, Our Boys Steel Orchestra. On the international front, he has arranged for Harmony Steel Orchestra in New York, ‘Big Pan’ Pan Groove in Germany, Piton Diamond Steel Orchestra in St. Lucia and Calypso Atlantic, and Pan de Montangac of France. He has also captured first place twelve times at different competitions over the years.
From the news desk of Renegades Steel Orchestra