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Sesame Flyers Steel Orchestra Stays The Course

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Sesame Flyers Steel Orchestra

New York - One of the stalwart music organizations in New York City - Sesame Flyers Steel Orchestra - presented the third in it’s bi-annual concert series “Sesame Flyers Pan Extravaganza” this past Memorial weekend on Friday May 24. Unlike the rain that heralded 2006’s show, the weather cooperated superbly, but then that is what is most welcome on any holiday weekend.

The 2006 pan extravaganza was better attended than this year’s, but that was very probably due in part to the date chosen for this year’s event; potential attendees may have had their own plans, taking many away from New York.  Any event that competes for the attention of people’s plans for Memorial holiday weekend in the United States may find itself challenged, as was apparently the case that Friday.

That being said, nonetheless for those patrons who were in attendance, sweet pan is what was advertised, and that is exactly what was served up on the musical menu.  On the musical agenda were the stageside (about twenty musicians out of 2007’s one hundred-strong panorama orchestra) of defending New York Panorama champions Sonatas Steel Orchestra, musical maestro and renowned composer and arranger Pelham Goddard, Queens-based Steel Sensation, Andy Akiho, and of course hosts Sesame Flyers Steel Orchestra.  Getting underway one hour later than its scheduled 8:00 PM start, the evening’s show began with Sesame Flyers’ resident drummer and tenor player Keith Marcelle, Jr. (pictured on tenor pan) rendering the US anthem.   After that the concert steamed full speed ahead for the small but extremely appreciative audience who were lusty in their acknowledgement of show openers Sonatas.

This was the group’s first formal and public appearance for the 2008 New York pan season, and the young, talented and cutting-edge musicians were full of boundless energy as they dished up well-received musical morsels such as their funky Mr. Magic and crowd–pleasing show opener, The Ganges and The Nile.  Those who caught their act that evening know that Sonatas (pictured) was serving notice that they will be back with deadly precision as they seek to retain their panorama championship title this year. For the moment the orchestra’s stageside represented some of their finest musical talents in a firestorm that set the pace for the rest of the evening.

Included on the program were the Bildersee Beacon Dancers who delivered two performances within the show, with the saucier of their two numbers - their colorful calypso-themed presentation complete with the very flexible limbo dancer – eliciting even more crowd-response.

Pelham Goddard (pictured at left) who has been Sesame Flyers Steel Orchestra’s music arranger since 2006 and reprises his role in 2008, was afforded prominence throughout the show, as was his right as a living music legend within the Caribbean Diaspora.  On keyboard, Pelham periodically “tickled the ivories” educating, enlightening and of course entertaining the audience young and old alike, with some of his well-known and classic compositions, immortalized by the likes of calypsonian David Rudder.

Whenever Steel Sensation (pictured at right) is on the bill, people look forward to the small but effective group of musicians to hear what they bring to the show on that particular occasion.  This time was no different, with them delivering their own eclectic versions of tracks such as Rose, Turkish March and Could You Be Loved.  With every performance, Steel Sensation stretches the boundaries of where some perceive that the pan instrument has “reached.”

Musician Andy Akiho who has been affiliated with Sesame Flyers over the years, and their co-arranger during their 2005 panorama season, made an appearance once more, taking the stage with Pelham at one point and featuring Amali Premawardhana (pictured at left with Akiho) on cello at another.

As the hosts, Sesame Flyers closed the show, and took time out with their carefully crafted repertoire which showcased music arranged by Gilmore Thomas, Alfred Harris, III, Keith Marcelle, Jr. and of course, Pelham Goddard.  Not only did the orchestra ably handle selections such as Pelham Goddard’s arrangement of the Mighty Sparrow’s classic Slave, and 2008’s Ten Commandments of Pan with Gilmore Thomas sporting the arranger’s hat in that instance, but they connected with the audience with a Bob Marley medley, and of course music popular with young Caribbeanites on the soca scene like Gyal Farm/Chippin’ arranged by young Keith Marcelle, Jr.

At the end of the show, both the artistes and the audience were well pleased.  With hours of rehearsals behind them and culminating on that night, the performers – musicians and dancers alike – put their heart and soul into their routines.  The audience responded with pleasure, shouts of encouragement and admiration throughout.  As Sesame Flyers stays the course as one of the beacons for youth interested in the steelband culture and artform, they have proven once again that their bi-annual pan extravaganza is one of the mainstays in New York’s steelband music productions.

Click for more on Sesame Flyers Pan Extravaganza Shows

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