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Steelband Arranger Amrit Samaroo
Speaks on Trinidad & Tobago Steelband Panorama 2007

Arranger Amrit Samaroo
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Trinidad - When Steel Talks spoke with young Trinbagonian arranger Amrit Samaroo, who is arranging on the national panorama scene in the 'regular'  conventional steel orchestra category in Trinidad and Tobago for the first time. For the Junior national panorama, Amrit is the customary arranger for Renegades Youth Steel Orchestra, and has taken them to winner’s row in the past; in 2006, the band was second.

For 2007, that scenario has changed, and Amrit is arranging for Lee Chong’s Pan Glow based in South Trinidad; the orchestra is competing in the medium category.  However, the outside world has already recognized and employed Amrit Samaroo's talents as a steelband music arranger.  For the past couple of years, he worked with St. Lucia’s Pantimes Steel Orchestra, and for 2006, they took second place honors with a difference of just one-half of a point.  He has also arranged for Dem Stars in New York.

Amrit Samaroo has reason to be doubly proud for this panorama season. The young arranger is also a composer, and wrote the song Band From Space which Renegades steel orchestra will be performing at the panorama competition, with his father, the famed Dr. Jit Samaroo in the arranger’s chair.  It is also the panorama selection for Lee Chong’s Pan Glow.


Live Exclusive Interview with Arranger Amrit Samaroo
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Band From Space, Amrit explained, is a true ‘pan song’ in every sense of the word.  He wrote it for the New York stage side steelband he plays with and arranges for, Steel Sensation, and they have performed it.  It was also the panorama tune of choice for Pantimes in St. Lucia for 2006.  There were different lyrics then for the song, but Amrit says he “wasn’t too happy with the topic” so this time around he redid the lyrics. “The perfect man for the whole thing was Crazy [Trinidadian calypsonian who resides in the US]; it was a crazy topic.”  He enlisted the assistance of fellow colleague and steelpan arranger Kareem Brown, who is also versed in studio production and operations, to turn out a musical product that would be favorable with the wider steelpan fraternity.  Both Brown and Samaroo have won scholarships from the Music Literacy Trust fund, which enabled them to study together at the University of the West Indies. Furthermore, Amrit says that the young arrangers like himself, Brown, Cheo Cato (arranger for the 2006 Junior panorama champions, St. Augustine Senior Comprehensive Steel Orchestra) and others, continually ‘bounce ideas off each other’ to have a sense of where the [pan] music should go.

With the full Samaroo blood flowing in his veins, it was not surprising that though Amrit wrote the song Band From Space for a ‘smaller band’ (Steel Sensation), it sounded like “Renegades music” as he said with a chuckle.  And it was that characteristic which led to it being Renegades’ 2007 competition piece.  It was a case of “people choosing the song for Renegades more than Renegades choosing the song,” said Amrit.

In addition to again leading Renegades Youth Steel Orchestra for this year’s national Junior Panorama, the talented musician is excited about taking the reins and arranging for Pan Glow; the band is coming back out for the first time in about ten years.  They folded after the institution of the “one arranger – one band” rule, which deprived them of their arranger of choice, Jit Samaroo, who was also Renegades’ resident arranger.  This was before the bands were categorized into small, medium and large - the case for the past two years, and which now allows arrangers to work with one band in each category if desired.

Pan Glow approached Jit Samaroo this year to arrange in the medium category (Renegades competes in the large conventional orchestra category) – however he opted to focus on the latter.  But his son Amrit Samaroo was available, and Pan Glow happily snapped up Jit’s talented offspring for their 2007 return to the competition arena.  They have already put down six of the required eight-minute arrangement, as they get ready for this Sunday’s pan yard preliminary.

With the number of steel orchestras that abound since the segmentation of the bands into small, medium and large categories three years ago, bands have been suffering from a supply of pan musicians especially at the preliminary stage of competition.  Not so Pan Glow, which will be fielding between seventy-five to eighty players – almost at the division max of ninety musicians - and there are still core Pan Glow members who are not yet aware that the band is back for 2007!  Amrit happily added that Pan Glow is looking to ‘make a big splash’ and get everyone on board again. Amrit Samaroo himself has made more than a mere splash in this year’s panorama season, showcasing on both  the Junior and regular panorama scene, in addition to having composed a selection that has found favor for panorama 2007.   He is expected to make waves on the global steelpan stage for years to come.

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