Panorama Gold

birdsong Steel Orchestra

2017 Tune of choice:  Pan Kingdom  | arranger:  Mia Gormandy

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In 1973 birdsong Steel Orchestra was established on the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies and by 1974 had incorporated players from Tunapuna’s Hilltones Steel Orchestra and the Monte Grand community. Now located at the corner St. Vincent and Connell Streets, birdsong is a registered not-for-profit organization that was granted charitable status by the Ministry of Finance last year.

birdsong has three branches of operation. The Steel Orchestra is the performing arm that focuses exclusively on the core objectives of creating music and developing mastery of the steelpan. The steel orchestra has performed at every national Panorama since 1974, has toured the Caribbean and Venezuela and has an active stageside that performs year round.

The birdsong Academy, established in 2004, is the educational arm with a mandate to provide free yearlong music education to young people 11 to 20 years of age from the community. Though rooted in the steelband movement the Academy reaches beyond the steelpan to include other instruments - keyboard, string, wind, brass, and percussion instruments. Students are trained to be well-rounded musicians with the skills and competence to enjoy a lifetime of music either recreationally or professionally - in fact we now have graduates pursuing Music degrees in Trinidad and abroad while others are members of the Police and Fire Services bands. The last year’s 5-week-long July vacation camp enrolled 135 children from the community and 75 youth are now enrolled in the Academy’s Saturday programme. A Scholarship fund was launched this year to assist students with the considerable expenses associated with pursuing a tertiary level music education. The Academy was one of the best kept secrets in town!

Daily Environmental Services Limited (DESL) and birdsong Enterprises Limited are the social enterprises that employ individuals from the steelband and surrounding community. The companies contract for landscaping, janitorial and light construction jobs and provide employment and skills development for workers and all profits are used to offset the expenses of the Steel Orchestra and Academy.

birdsong continues to be at the forefront of innovation with a clear vision of being the leading institution for music education and sustainable development of the steelpan. The birdsong model was used for the development of the National Youth Music Education System launched in 2010 and is being adopted by this government in its fight to empower and uplift young people. birdsong is a safe space where young people can congregate without fear - we have a zero tolerance policy for drugs, violence, weapons or abuse of any kind.

In keeping with our philosophy of community development, our operations provide an important source of recreation, skill development and income-earning opportunities for the youth of Tunapuna and surrounding communities. Our limited resources are always at the disposal of the community for music educational programmes, community concerts, meetings, sporting competitions and community development activities.

birdsong Arrangers


2014 Panorama Performance
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