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Steelpan in The Maldives
Duvone Stewart Shows Them How Itís Done

  October  2, 2005  

Republic of Maldives -   The Republic of Maldives was among the most severely impacted countries inundated by the deadly tsunami of December 26, 2004. The republic is made up of a group of island atolls in the Indian Ocean, located just off the south-western coast of India.  Like all areas devastated by the tsunami, the Maldives has been moving determinedly along the road to recovery.  For years, the atolls have been among the most popular of Asian tourist destinations, and now, along with the islands' sea and sand, the sounds of the steelpan can now be found in the Maldives. 

Musician and steelband arranger Duvone Stewart is there for one month, charged with imparting knowledge about the music of the steelpan instrument.  He is working with a group of about seventeen young men, tutoring them in the art of playing steelpan.  They will eventually go on to take the musical message of sweet steelpan music further afield within their own population.

Tobago-born Duvone Stewart is no stranger to the world of professional pan.  He has a proven track record in Trinidad and Tobago, having taken Merrytones Steel Orchestra to the pinnacle of success in the small conventional steel orchestra category at the National Panorama Finals in 2004.  He is also a past champion of Pan Ramajay competitions, and in the off-season, Stewart's own steelpan ensemble of about five or six members - Pantasy - tours Asia, Europe, and North America.  But Stewart's stint in the Republic of Maldives is strictly a solo gig. 

Adam Maniku, Director
 of Creative Arts

According to the arranger/pannist/tutor, Maldivian interest in the pan instrument came about through the 1999 visit to Trinidad and Tobago, of Maldives' Deputy Finance and Treasury Minister Adam Maniku  who is also the current director of Maldives' creative art portfolio.  Adam Maniku's dream was to bring pan - which he experienced during his official 1999 visit - to the Republic of Maldives. 

Arrangements were made to have Trinidad and Tobago Instruments Ltd. (TTIL) supply the Maldives with steelpan instruments.  They in turn recommended the tutorial services of Stewart for the Maldivian initiative, who says he is "enjoying his work to the fullest."   He reports that it's the first time that people of the Maldives were seeing an instrument like the steelpan, but that "they are all enjoying it." 



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