Steelpan Tuner
 Khuent Rose - Steelpan Tuner
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Khuent Rose

Khuent Rose - Steelpan Tuner

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Khuent Rose
B.M. Composition, 31

“Next to water, music is the most essential element of our existence.” This is the kind of Philosophy that has molded the works of Khuent Rose. Born January 16, 1985 and raised in the Afro/ Latin- Caribbean haze of Brooklyn, New York, he was able to reconcile his Honduran, Costa Rican, European and Amerindian ancestries into a seamlessly unique music style. Heavily influenced by the music of the Church, the Steel band, and the plurality of the Caribbean, his works represent the colorful people and history that his Brooklyn home emanates.

At an early age, Khuent was remarked to have a strong disposition to the art of music. Often staying home and listening to recordings of Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Luis Guerra, Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, Tito Puente, Sparrow, Lord Relator, Lord Kitchener, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Art Tatum, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones and countless others that his father- a native Costa Rican- had at his disposal. Even at church with his Honduran mother he was known to make his way to the piano or organ whenever he could to faithfully reproduce something that had been sung or played earlier that day. This sparked enough of an interest that shortly after a modest keyboard was given to him around the age of 9 (that he still possesses) to practice with.

Adamantly, refusing to attend lessons and determined to educate himself, Khuent did just that and soon became fluent at sight-reading elementary piano music and basic theory by the age of 10. It was also during this time that his love affair with the art of the steel pan was also fostered. After attending WIADCA’s pre-Labor Day Panorama Competition, he was completely imprisoned to the instrument and its powerful allure. He joined the CASYM Steel Orchestra where Dwight DaSilva was the band captain and was an active member for over 10 years. While under the leadership of William Jones and Arddin Herbert, Khuent Rose went from being a player to an instructor and even partook the cap of arranging with the band. During his residence with the organization he performed at easily over 100s of venues with crowds at times in excess of 20,000.

Such was the case of Khuent’s entries into the steel pan competitions of both New York and Trinidad. As a soloist he received mixed accolades ranging from the “peculiarity” of the performance to the “brilliance of the compositions” themselves. Though victory had never been his stated intention when partaking in these competitions, he did at least enjoy coaching others into improving themselves to perform better. Immediately after graduating Midwood High School with high accolades, Khuent traveled to Florida Memorial University (FMU) (Steel pan performance-/ jazz-influenced) under the tutelage of one of the most dynamic forces in the steel band international community Dr. Dawn Batson-Borel. Of all his mentors she was by far the most iconoclastic. She fed him the sobering realities of his art and his personal shortcomings with a hand full of honey. He was also closely influenced by several members of faculty namely, Melton Mustafa (Jazz), Dr. Richard Yaklich, Feliz Spengler and students like Freddie Harris, III, Collins Peters, Joanna White, and Alea Nicholson. During his stay there he had advanced so rapidly that even the faculty had suggested that other venues would have probably been better suited for his studies; so said so done. He returned to his Brooklyn home after two years of attendance at FMU.

An illustrious sense of harmony and minimalist melodic structure became the corner stone of his composition style exiting the Florida school. He continued his studies at Brooklyn College (Music Composition), ironically across the street from the very high school that he had attended. It was also during this shift of collegiate venues that his spiritual venues also shifted. His desire to reconnect with his traditional African spirituality and culture nagged him insistently. He made several attempts to manifest this growing desire through songs in honor of his ancestors and local historical figures of West African Indigenous traditions. In the birth of the music of the drum came forth drumming and Orisha tradition music which had a profound impact on Khuent Rose’s already eclectic pool of sonorities.

The years of separation from CASYM Steel Orchestra made Khuent realize that it was time to become something more. Khuent appointed himself as a consultant to various arrangers and drill sergeant to bands gearing up for competition. During this period he under went the sacred ordination of an Osun priest in the Orisha Tradition, while simultaneously securing a position as a music director of Premier Baptist Church in Brooklyn. It was a widely controversial move on his part but he reconciled the fact that he was born of two different spiritual lineages that made not only him but also more importantly his music, a product of centuries of distillations. Khuent Rose expresses in his music the germination of a spiritual act taking place, whether the setting is secular or not. So the same attention to the flow of energy and body language seen at a party should be expressed at church, shout or a circle drumming. We are all united by the drum and our blood.

Between 1995 and 2009, Khuent has done over 70 major works including Piano, Steel Pan, Strings, Flute and Voice; these were penned. They represent the varied styles and cultural influences that have shaped Khuent’s over-arching musical philosophy. Under the Executive Direction of Martin Douglas - 40-year pan veteran – Khuent was commissioned as the Musical Director of Crossfire Steel Orchestra in April of 2008 and is the youngest arranger that the band has ever had.

He has arranged music for several steelbands and has also been the Musical director of Sesame Flyers Steel Orchestra. His position as music teacher at The Achievement First Brooklyn High School offered him the opportunity to start one of New York City’s only high school Steelband program geared toward Steel panists in Brooklyn being college-ready.

Amongst these accomplishments he has also cultivated the art of steelpan tuning while mentoring several members of the Caribbean music community, in New York and abroad. His services in intonation have graced the pans of Pan Sonatas Steel Orchestra, Pantastic Steelband, CASYM Steel Orchestra, Sesame Flyers, Meyer Levin, Utopia Pan Soul and recently Pan Evolution under the musical direction of champion Panorama arranger Andre White.

Khuent Rose is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the musical world and has a vision to see Caribbean culture herald the face of the contemporary African Diaspora.