Global - It is said that our lives are inextricably linked together in ways we may never know or imagine. And then again there are times when it is all too clear, the coincidences, how fate and/or destiny play out, in the way things unfold; it was just meant to be.
Years ago a very young Ray Holman arranged the Beatles’ original and the now classic Penny Lane for Starlift Steel Orchestra. While this song’s Pan arrangement and performance indeed have special meaning and memories to a generation of steelpan music lovers of the Golden Age of Pan, it is a little known sidebar to this - that turned what meant nothing at the time, into a momentous moment in the annals of steelpan music history.
In a When Steel Talks (WST) interview a few years ago, Ray Holman revealed that the late Clive Bradley was his favorite arranger. The irony of the statement is that Clive Bradley revealed to WST in one of his many interviews, that while he was always aware of the steelpan instruments while growing up in Trinidad, he (already at the time an accomplished and respected musician) never gave them much thought until he heard Starlift playing Ray’s arrangement of “Penny Lane.” It was at that moment, as Bradley put it, he realized that the steel orchestra had a real future and could be taken seriously. Of course Clive Bradley would go on to become one of the most heralded, successful and admired arrangers in the history of steel orchestra music.
Fast-forward decades later: 50 years of Panorama have passed. Ray Holman, like Clive, has left an astounding mark on the history and music of the steel orchestra with an impressive and respected body of work. His legacy continues; as an arranger he has advanced as a finalist in this year’s Trinidad and Tobago National Panorama competition with his composition Sapna (The Dream), as performed by Skiffle Steel Orchestra.
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