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Steel Pan in Dominica

Date: 04.30.06

A Great Beginning:
Dominica's OECS
Junior Pan Competition

Roseau, Dominica - The brainchild of Ms. Anna Raffoul - president of the Dominican Steelpan Association - was a resounding success.  The savvy Dominican business woman with a fiery passion for the steelpan instrument spearheaded and witnessed an historical event that was the first of its kind in Dominica.  Ms. Raffoul's bubbly and outgoing personality provided a veneer for the shrewdness and determination that was pivotal in the success in pulling off this type of event with no government involvement. The country's Botanical Gardens provided a great outdoor setting for the inaugural pan competition, which started at its scheduled time of 2:00 PM.  The event ran like clockwork, with no delays or stoppages.

Antigua and Barbuda musician collects trophy
on behalf of the steel orchestra

Billed as the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) Junior Steel Pan competition, six Caribbean countries competed for a prize purse, trophy, and an additional surprise reward - a trip for the winning steel orchestra to perform at an OECS gala to be held in St. Kitts in June 2006.   Musicians in the steel orchestras were aged sixteen and under with a maximum complement of twenty.

Antigua & Barbuda topped the competition, followed by Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts/Nevis and Montserrat.  Click here for detailed results.  St. Lucia was invited as the seventh country and had been scheduled to participate in the competition, but subsequently withdrew.

Orchestras performed arrangements of two pieces.   First was the competition test piece, Pan Earthquake, composed by the late Lord Kitchener, aka the Grandmaster.   The second  was a tune of choice, with the only stipulation being that it was composed by an artist from one of the eastern Caribbean countries.

Antigua and Barbuda during their winning performance at
the inaugural OECS Junior Steel Pan competition

His Excellency Dr. Nicholas Liverpool and Mrs. Liverpool
(center and right)

Dignitaries in attendance of the pan competition included the country's president, His Excellency Dr. Nicholas Liverpool and Mrs. Verna Liverpool, and other respective Ministers with responsibilities for Education and Tourism. 



Also at the event in a show of support was Antigua & Barbuda's Culture and Independence Minister, Eleston Adams (pictured at left).  Called upon for an impromptu speech, Adams addressed participants and music lovers after the performances, briefly speaking on related matters including the importance and contribution of the youth to culture.


Mr. Colin Bully from the OECS
addresses the crowd after the competition


Dominican Minister of Education Vince Henderson

Mr. Colin Bully from the OECS was also present, and was one of the officials who addressed the participants and attendees.  He is also a former tenor player with one of Dominica's famed steel orchestras - Vauxhall Steel Band, no longer in existence.  Mr. Bully shared how pleased he was with the competition, and said that though the OECS itself had no official connection with the event, the organization was happy to support such a musical and cultural venture. 

This was demonstrated through the OECS decision to have the champion junior orchestra perform at their gala event later on in the year.  As this was not part of the original prize package, the winners, Antigua & Barbuda, were thrilled to learn the fruits of their labors paid off additionally with the unexpected trip to St. Kitts to perform.


Tamana Primary Steelpan Workshop welcome event attendees
with a musical performance

Tamana Primary Steelpan Workshop, who themselves were winners of a steelpan music festival competition held last November in Trinidad and Tobago in the 'thirteen and under' category, were on hand to do their country proud.  They too came to Dominica on their prize trip, having earned the right to represent Trinbago at the April 30 junior steelpan competition. 

Cool Steel from Dominica go through their musical paces

The group was first on the agenda of what would be a pan-filled afternoon, running through their first set which included Bob Marley's No Woman, No Cry, and Willie Nelson's You're Always On My Mind.  These were two of three selections arranged by twelve-year old Tamana band captain Sherese Benoit.  They were called upon a few times to provide more great music as the afternoon progressed, while people crowded around to see the youngsters in action.  One of Dominica's other junior pan groups - Cool Steel - was also on hand  as guest artists and entertained pan music lovers well.

Contact Ms. Raffoul, president of the Dominica Steelpan Association at

C. Phillips, Basement Press Corp.

2006 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved

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