The Rainmakers - A Production by Steelpan Women

Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

Global - The Rainmakers (the result of a collaborative production between two steelpan women: Franka-Hills Headley and Dr. Jeannine Remy) comprises of the San Fernando-based Golden Hands Steel Orchestra and the UWI (University of the West Indies) Percussion Ensemble in a dramatic musical production that incorporates traditional Trinidadian folklore, dance, and costumes, and is presented in a choreography set to original music. Franka Hills-Headley wrote the script, and the music was composed by Dr. Jeannine Remy. A staging of this elaborate musical work is set for March 22nd at one of Trinidad’s premier venues, the Queen’s Hall in St. Ann’s.

The first half of the show will feature the UWI percussion ensemble followed by an intermission performance on the Percussion Harmonic Instrument (PHI).  The PHI is an Electronic Percussion Innovation from the UWI Engineering Lab; and that performance takes place in the lobby of the venue while the stage is set for the second half of the Rainmakers production. 

In November of 2008, the Rainmakers performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Austin, Texas.  Professor Gary Cook, President of the Percussive Arts Society, presented a commemorative plaque to the group, stating: “The Rainmakers has been a highlight of our convention and my personal witnessing of this amazing production was both moving and inspiring.”  The Rainmakers was acclaimed by Jeff Hartsough, PASIC’s Director of Event Production and Marketing, who noted: “Your performance was awesome; we’ve had several people say it was one of the best sessions at PASIC…”.  From the Sabian Cymbals PASIC report on the Rainmakers they said: “One of the most moving and theatrical performances came from the Rainmakers from Trinidad. The work they performed was titled ‘A Tropical Journey in Percussion and Steel’.  With impeccable playing, together with a moving story and theatrical movement, their performance moved everybody in attendance.  Many commented on the unique textures and levels of playing that they had formerly not thought possible with steel pan music.”

Now those who are in Trinidad have the opportunity to experience the show that had the US audiences on the edge of their seats.  The main intent of this work is to provide a forum for the integration of the diverse disciplines of visual and performing arts.  The Rainmakers is a programmatic suite of nine compositions that comprise of five steelband ensemble pieces with light percussion accompaniment, two solos, one quartet, and one piece that combines a large percussion ensemble with the steelband. 

As a unit, these pieces explore the practical and theoretical potential of the steelpan that is vital for its continued evolution as a musical instrument in the 21st century. It also integrates both traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments together with a conventional steelband.  The compositions are intended to elevate the level of performance practice by expanding the musicianship of young panists.  New techniques and practical idioms are explored that require innovative uses of the steelpan instruments.  In this performance session soloists will perform with four sticks and one will perform on a new steelpan instrument dubbed “the extended seconds”.  The music moves from a distinct dissonant to a consonant quality as the storyline unfolds and hints at the plethora of ethnographic music genres that are the fruition of the rich ‘creolization’ process of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Rainmakers in concert comes off at the Queen’s Hall on March 22nd at 6:00 p.m.  For tickets call 1 (868) 663 2222; (868) 662-2002 ext. 3791/3792. 

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