Siparia Deltones Steel Orchestra
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Siparia Deltones was founded in 1962 by Mr. Ellis Knights. Our present address happens to be our place of birth - Railway Road, Siparia. This location happens to be a major place of interest in our country because at this exact location happens to be the location of the last train stop many years ago. Artifacts from this station could be still found on our compound and its surroundings such as old bungalows where the train workers resided, parts of the wheel where the train turned, elements of the stations administration building etc. Due to this our theatre was nicknamed ‘D LAST STOP’ & ‘D RAILWAY.’
Our home, a small community named Siparia in the deep southern district of the island, has a very rich cultural heritage. What is most notable though is our contribution towards the folk aspect of our culture in music, dance and drama. Historic proof of this would be that we won the Best Village Competition (a national arts competition hosted by the government for communities across the nation) six times in a row. So this deeply cultured community that we were raised and bred in, of course has a lot of influence on the music that we do.
To date our organization would have gone through 4 different generations of membership. On many occasions new members would have some sort of relation to members from past generations. Throughout the passage of time our orchestra would have always maintained a high marketing standard in the fraternity. Many of the most notable arrangers in the country worked with our group at different intervals. Some of them are Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe, Clive Bradley, Ray Holman and Lincoln Waldron.
Deltones orchestra consists of 75 members. Our orchestra consists mostly of students that are presently enrolled in our school and have gone through some intermediate level of Pan playing technique and at least a grade 3 theory of music knowledge. Our orchestra is used when our band is required to perform in festive type projects and orchestral competitions such as Panorama, Carnival performances, National/Regional Music Festivals, Bomb competitions, Pan in the 21st Century, etc.
Our musical coordinator has managed to revolutionize many concepts in the field of steel band orchestration and arranging. The manner in which he uses the different voices of the orchestra creates a most unique sound. Most notably also is Mr. Zanda’s inclusion of the African drum ensemble fused together with the steel orchestra. This fusion is a most organic one in that the steel pan is an evolutionary instrument of the very said African drums.
Another outstanding element of the orchestra is the choice of songs that is chosen for the different orchestral competitions. Songs that at a first glance could appear as though they do not possess elements that could be expanded on but the creativeness of Mr. Zanda always manages to take these very said pieces and develop them into pieces that the musical intellectuals can appreciate. A high level of rhythmic and harmonic development is achieved whereby the average ‘roots man’ will receive a sort of ‘bound to dance’ feeling upon the music reaching his ears. Some of the pieces we have done in the past include ROLL IT GYUL sung by Machel Montano and Allison Hinds, WHAT I WANT sung by Fireball (Rohan Richards), HORNER MAN sung by Shadow (Winston Bailey), CARIBBEAN MAN sung by Black Stalin (Dr. Leroy Calliste) and I’M NOT DRUNK sung by K.M.C. (Ken Marlon Charles).
Our music school which is also situated at our Pan theatre, aims to re-develop a high interest level in the performing arts amongst the youth. We have observed over the years that there was a depreciation in the involvement level for the performing arts amongst the youth and one of the main causes for this is lack of education or in some cases mis-education. So we saw it fit to take up the mantle and address seriously the issue of music education faced by our community. Though pan and percussion (n.m.p.i.) are the only instruments taught presently, in the near future we also intend to include piano and vocals as other options for students.
Deltones and the Coalpot Band
Our curriculum pays a lot of attention to music awareness. We would like to develop a consciousness level amongst the youth where one’s aspirations would not be short changed. Where one could freely see himself being a contributing factor to the development of the performing arts in their country and by extension the world. Craftsmanship and the science of music is our other major focus. Building a understanding amongst students towards the importance of the merging of arts and science and that it must never be divorced. Our curriculum has proven to be a most effective one in that we have seen in the past where many students enrolled in our school for no more than six months were able to perform with our orchestra at major projects including panorama.
Deltones and the Coal pot band is a most organic combination in that most of the Coal pot band’s musicians are also members of Deltones. In fact the Coal pot’s leader/arranger is also the musical director of Deltones, Carlton ‘Zanda’ Alexander. In this element Mr. Zanda combines western instruments together with the steel ensemble to create a most explosive sound. The tonality that is achieved when the trumpet plays a line with the frontline or when the six pan and the guitar base plays a line in unison and when the piano plays polyrhythm’s in cohesion to the guitar and three cellos is nothing short of mind-blowing. This combination is used for certain concert type projects and introduces a totally new instrumentation to the fraternity.
The Five “Ah” Side
As the heading suggests, the 5ah side is a quintet of players. This form of the ensemble is a facet of the band which is frequently used in performances where a smaller group is necessary. This however, should not be taken slightly as this smaller set creates a certain independence among the players as well as inculcating a sense of awareness in terms of producing the proper texture (relatively). Each player in the five a side functions as a multi – instrumentalist, having to play up to three (3) different steel drums and non-melodic percussive instruments, thus enabling multi-instrumentalism to be appreciated and internalized within the musicians of our band. Another unique aspect of this 5 ah side is exclusion of the drum set which has found a home in steel bands across the globe. At times Mr. ‘ Zanda’ joins the quintet, adding a solo piano element to it.
- Local Junior Music Festival 2001 (1ST PLACE)
- Caribbean Junior Festival 2003 (1ST PLACE)
- Small Band Panorama 2006 (3RD PLACE)
- Small Band Panorama 2007 (1ST PLACE)
- Small Band Panorama 2008 (4TH PLACE)
- Large Band Panorama 2009 (7TH PLACE)
- 10 Times Zonal Panorama Champions (Inclusive 2008)
- Performed alongside Hugh Masekela at the 2005 San Fernando Jazz Festival
Manager: Ricardo Marshall
Public Relations Officer: Peter Aleong
Captain: Akinola Sennon
Secretary: Joyan Raphael
Treasurer: Curt Richards
Financial Advisor: Brian Awang
Asst. Secretary: George Caesar
Vice Captain: Keilon Simon
Source: Cascadoo CNVI
2020 Tune of choice: “Festival Song” | arranger: Akinola Sennon
Deltones Steelband was founded in 1962 by pan pioneer Ellis
Knights. The band initially competed as a small conventional
steelband before making the leap to the Large Steelband
category in 2009 with arranger
“Zanda” Alexander. In August 2009, the band
travelled to Canada to perform at the Barrie Caribbean
|Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit