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Branches Steel Orchestra

 

Branches Steel Orchestra

Branches Steel Orchestra was fortunate to be chosen as the "House Band" for the January 4th Inaugural Ball of the newly-elected Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.  History was made with Governor Patrick - who is the second black Governor elected in the United States, and the first elected in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.   Branches members feel that the Steel Pan, the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century, also made history, being played for the first time at an Inaugural Ball of a US government official.  The crowd of over ten thousand who attended the ball heard Branches as they entered the great hall.  A wonderful time was had by all and the Branches members were happy and proud to represent the people of Trinidad by showcasing these wonderful instruments and the West Indies in general.  The 24 members who played for the Inaugural Ball were a fraction of the Orchestra.

Today, there are about 60 members ranging from age seven to adult who learn music theory from lessons taught by a band member.  Branches Steel Orchestra is a group of musicians, primarily young persons, from the urban community.

Our established base is the pan-yard at Harvard Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts. We are a highly professional and disciplined group of musicians playing arrangements of various styles, while promoting the cultural traditions of the Steel Orchestra.  These traditions have their roots in calypso and the Caribbean Carnival, integrating European and African classical rhythms. Our repertoire extends from classical music such as Beethoven, Bach etc., and Modern Classics, to Pop, R&B, Spirituals, Jazz, Soca, and Reggae.

Ninety percent of Branches' members are students under age eighteen from Boston-area public schools. In addition, two professional arrangers - Mr. Conrad Jones and Professor Justin Petty provide instruction and expose members to a variety of composers and styles. These dedicated young musicians perform all year and rehearse 9-12 hours each week when they are not performing, and up to 20 hours weekly during the summer months.  They have performed in numerous shows throughout New England and have traveled as far as Montreal, Canada ,reaching millions of people during recent years.

The band also provides entertainment for annual corporate and private gatherings, including many of Bostonís largest financial institutions, such as the former Bank Boston, Bank America and private events in academia including the Champions in Concert at Roxbury Community College, and sponsored events at Northeastern University MIT and Boston University.  Branches has received many awards for its outstanding hard work with youth and adult members, and gained increased recognition for its dedication and promotion of West Indian culture. The City of Boston Mayorís Office and other numerous local civic organizations have recognized the contributions of Branches Steel Orchestra.

Branches won the championship for Bostonís Panorama Competition from 1997 to the present and placed second out of six competitors in 1998. Recently, the band was awarded Best Steel Band in Boston at the Bostonís Caribbean Music Awards Show and for its performance at the Annual West Indian festival.

Report submitted by Branches Steel Orchestra

 Director: Mr. Carl Smith

 Music Director/Arranger:  Mr. Justin A. Petty,

Tenured Professor, Roxbury Community College

Arrangers: Mr. Conrad Jones and Mr. Harry Skair

Co-Captains: Mr. Elijah Evans, Ms. Sheena Cruz

Jr-Captains: Ms. Andrea  Robinson

 

Rehearsals and workshops held at:

324 Harvard Street, Dorchester, MA 02124

617.364.4206 or 617.834.9614

Email us at:

branchespangrooves@mac.com

 


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