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And The Youths Shall Lead…

National Youth Pan Orchestra Triumphs

Yes We “KHAN!!”

Moods of Pan 2008 


Antigua & Barbuda, W.I. - The twin-island country’s National Youth Pan Orchestra, fielding the youngest group of musicians in Moods of Pan’s 2008 25-A-Side competition, stunned and trounced their more seasoned and sometimes older peers in the five other orchestras.  Though some of the young winners also did double duty with the other orchestras (they were part of the youth arms of those more established bands in the country), it was the incarnation featuring them as the best of the twin-island’s youthful steelpan musicians, that pulled it off for what was the inaugural contest of its kind in the tenth annual Moods of Pan festival, proudly organized by Gemonites Steel Orchestra, who also took part in the competition.

Officially billed “The Cool & Smooth Gemonites Moods of Pan 2008 Leroy “Jughead” Gordon 25-A-Side Steelband competition,” the youth orchestra clinched the ten thousand-dollar first prize and a trophy for the night’s presentation. The two orchestras hot on their heels were Panache – an off-shoot of the veteran Gemonites Steel Orchestra - and Ebonites Steel Orchestra.  They too each received a trophy along with eight thousand and six thousand dollars, respectfully.  The remaining three bands received three thousand dollars each, and also trophies for their laudable efforts.

Eighteen-year old Khan Cordice (at left on stage) who lives, eats, and breathes the steelpan instrument, took the Stevie Wonder classic “Sir Duke” and arranged the song in a manner eagerly and professionally executed by the young musicians under his charge.  In a motivational session about a week before the competition, the mantra ‘Yes We “KHAN”’ - using Cordice’s first name - and a take off of US President-elect Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan - was eagerly adopted by the youth orchestra; that chant was also heard on Friday night at the Deanery Grounds, St. John’s, venue of the event.

Sitting in on the band’s practice session the evening before, When Steel Talks could hear Cordice challenging the band to do ever better with each “run” of the song.  In much the same vein as fellow arrangers with many years under their belts, Cordice – who said he actually got into arranging earlier this year as a requirement for the CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) music exams - roundly lit into the orchestra whenever he thought that they were not being serious enough at any given moment.  As soon as he made clear what he wanted delivered, Cordice was himself behind the cellos, thoroughly getting into the music and performance of their tune of choice, as lost in the musical moment as the majority of his band mates.

That fire, passion and execution the young players exhibited during rehearsal (pictured right) were kicked up a notch on Friday night, which had the crowd ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ - particularly at a soft and sudden dynamic point in their delivery.  The combination of great on-stage execution by the youthful but determined band, and a well-arranged piece by Cordice who took full advantage of exploring and highlighting musical styles that took the audience on a cohesive and continually developing journey, ensured their top spot in the competition. With matching facial and physical expressions complementing their stage performance as only thoroughly engrossed musicians who “live” their music can display, Antigua and Barbuda’s National Youth Pan Orchestra took no prisoners this night. 

When it became clear that the young steelpan musicians had taken top place honors, there was a roar of approval from both the members themselves and the audience.  Arranger Khan Cordice had been already been on stage as band representative, and as he received the trophy from Mrs. Curlita Gordon, widow of national cultural icon and Harmonites’ pan player Leroy “Jughead” Gordon who passed away on November 13, his band mates were making a mad dash (pictured) for the stage.  Alternately hugging and congratulating each other in euphoria - the scene was truly one that set the pace for the remaining two nights of the Moods of Pan festival for 2008.

Members of the Antigua & Barbuda National Pan Orchestra


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Moods of Pan 2008   

contact: Moods of Pan
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