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.
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
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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