Pan Times

Youths keep Pan alive at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

by Von Martin


Washington D.C., U.S.A. - PANLARA Youth Steel Orchestra comprising of boys and girls from Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, the Bahamas, Panama and Jamaica performed on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.

PANLARA at John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts
PANLARA at John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts -  (Photographer: James R. Johnson III)

The group led by Trinidadian Debbie Lara played varied musical selections from Reggae, Jazz, and R&B to Latin and Soca, to a capacity audience with a full spectrum of steel band musical interpretations.

Their repertoire included songs like Sorry by Justin Beiber, Tan Tan by Fitz Vaughn Bryan Orchestra, Hello by Kes, and also a specially-written composition Tania Maria by the band’s arranger Sheldon Thwaites. The evening’s presentation ended with the performance of Signal To Lara, a composition by Super Blue.

The concert was a welcome feature by the Kennedy Center on the Millennium Stage in the Grand Foyer and was attended by a packed audience from all over the world including many of the Trinidadian and Tobagonian parents of the youths as well.

PANLARA Youth Steel Orchestra is a group of all excellent students in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and has performed internationally including a visit to South Africa, where they performed for children in Soweto. A trip, according to Debbie Lara, “...[that] has changed our lives completely.”

In addition to performing throughout the Caribbean, the youths have performed at many of D.C.’s signature musical arenas, such as the Music Center at Strathmore. Their musical arranger was Sheldon Thwaites.

Accompanying the group on vocals were Gabriella Nguyen and Alexis Turbat. Dancing to the interpretations of Fitz Vaughn Bryan’s Tan Tan and Super Blue’s Signal to Lara were dancers in costume from Richard’s Carnival experience.

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   PANLARA Youth Steel Orchestra performed musical selections from reggae, jazz, and R&B, to Latin and soca; the audience was treated to the full spectrum of steel band musical interpretations.