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           Date: 12.22.05

A Warmer side of Christmas
for Pan Knights Steel Orchestra

New York - The stage side of one of Trinidad's best known steel orchestras, Pan Knights, will be "Christmasing" in a slightly warmer environment for 2005.  The steel orchestra is based in San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, but the upcoming holiday will find the twenty-member steel orchestra in Calabar, capital of Cross River State in Nigeria, Africa.  The orchestra will be there to join in Cross River State's Christmas Festival and Carnival by invitation of the state governor, Donald Duke. 

Pan Knights' managing director Owen Serrette (pictured at right) spoke with When Steel Talks from London while he and his band were en route to Nigeria.  He said that arrangements were finalized at the last minute, but that the band, captained by Lloyd Manswell had been well prepared for their performances.   When Steel Talks  was on hand to capture the musicians at their Barataria panyard in San Juan at the beginning of December as they perfected their repertoire in anticipation of their Nigeria commitment. 

Pan Knights at their panyard practicing on December 1 for their Nigerian performances
Robert Greenidge, the band's 2005 Panorama arranger, looks on

An official delegation from Cross River State, Nigeria, visited Trinidad and Tobago earlier on this year during the carnival season and was fascinated and pleased with the similarity of expressions of the two cultures.  This eventually lead to a representation to the Trinidad and Tobago government to participate in Cross River's 2005 Christmas Festival and Carnival celebrations during the month of December. 

Pan Knights practicing for their Nigerian performances

Contingents of costumed revelers and steelband players were selected to serve as cultural ambassadors, with Pan Knights being the orchestra nominated for this trip.  A trio of officials from Trinidad and Tobago is also traveling with the team, including Ms. Cynthia Alfred from the Tobago House  of Assembly.   Calypsonian Slinger Francisco, aka the Mighty Sparrow is also slated to be part of the festival with a December 25th performance.

Pan Knights practicing for their Nigerian performances

Owen Serrette explained that it is his understanding that the orchestra's main performance will be December 26th.  Although their final event schedule will be available when the band arrives in Cross River State, additional appearances by Pan Knights are planned through December 29.  The Army Steelband and Cross River State's own steel orchestra are also listed to take part in the festival.  Pan Knights steel orchestra leaves Nigeria on December 30th for a scheduled return to Trinidad and Tobago the following day.

Pan Knights practicing for their Nigerian performances

For the 2005 Panorama season, Pan Knights Steel Orchestra performed Shurwayne Winchester's Dead Or Alive, arranged by world-renowned pannist Robert Greenidge.

Related link: Pan Knights in pictures - Panorama 2005


C. Phillips, Basement Press Corp.
2005 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved

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