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 Date: 03.27.06

Dominica To Host
OECS Junior SteelPan Competition


Dominica -  On Sunday April 30th, 2006 the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) Junior Pan Competition will be held on the Caribbean island  of Dominica.    In groups of twenty, the youngsters from their respective countries, aged sixteen years and under, will be in the spotlight in Dominica's Botanical Gardens.  Seven countries are participating - St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Dominica, Montserrat, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent and Grenada.  In addition, Pan Trinbago is sending a delegation of 25 students from Trinidad and Tobago as guest performers.  A five-day run-up program devoted to the steelpan instrument will begin April 26, and is to include forums and workshops on pan making, tuning and related activities.  A special delegation from Trinidad is also expected to discuss pan tuning and the care of the steelpan instrument.

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When Steel Talks spoke to Ms. Anna-Maria Raffoul, president of the Dominica Steelband Association and organizer, about the upcoming event which is in its inaugural year.  "The whole idea was to bring the young people from various islands into Dominica to match techniques and foster growth of this [steelband] cultural artform [in Dominica]", says Ms.  Raffoul.  In Dominica many of the young pannists who are participating in the competition play other instruments such as trombone and violin, and are very talented.

Ms. Raffoul says one of her main concerns is that the steelpan culture was dying in Dominica, and she is trying to revive the artform in the island.  At this time there are only three Junior steelband groups in Dominica, and four or five adult pan groups, with a maximum of eighteen players per group.  Currently there is only one pan tuner and pan maker on the island - Mr. Edward 'Eddie'  André; he is also one of the island's three steelband tutors.  One of the other two is Allan John Baptiste.  The latter's efforts are currently focused on decentralizing pan from Dominica's capital, Roseau and bringing it into the country area.  One of the tasks that the Dominican Steelband Association is tackling is attempting to get the country's Ministry of Education to take an interest in the artform to make it part of the school curriculum.  For now their Ministry of Culture has put aside funding to assist in purchasing pans and to facilitate tutors to journey to the villages and start tutoring groups.  The aim is to develop pan groups in the countryside and build the Dominican pan movement.

Ms. Raffoul does not play pan, but has a genuine love for the instrument and the people who play it.  She is committed to seeing the steelband artform grow in Dominica.  As a business person she looks forward to seeing every business concern adopt a steelband group/orchestra.  This she believes will create the necessary financing and funding for the artform's continued expansion.  One of her biggest challenges at this juncture is trying to sensitize the Dominican businesses to the need to introduce more youth to the artform.  The president of the Dominica Steelband Association is looking forward to the success of the upcoming junior competition to contribute greatly to the complete revival of the steelpan artform in Dominica.

Contact the Dominica Steelband Association at:

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