Casablanca Steel Orchestra

by Doris Green

The legendary names of Oscar “Bogart” Pyle, Ormond “Patsy” Haynes, Arthur “Art” De Coteau and Anthony Prospect will forever be linked to Casablanca Steel Orchestra. In December 1983 Casablanca journeyed to the USA and performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. When Steel Talks (WST) spotlights Casablanca’s celebrated performance as we revisit a 1985 concert review with academic, journalist, historian, ethnomusicologist, choreographer, notator and cultural and music standout Doris Green.

Republished from -  Steelbands of New York with permission from the author

A When Steel Talks Exclusive Reprint

Music Review

Casablanca Steel Orchestra at Brooklyn Academy of Music - 1983
Casablanca Steel Orchestra at Brooklyn Academy of Music - 1983


On Sunday, December 18, 1983, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) presented “Steel Bands in Concert” (carols and classicals) sponsored by the National Council of Steel Bands. The entire program centered mainly around the Casablanca Steel Orchestra.

The Casablanca Steel Orchestra was formed ˇn Trinidad in 1945. They play under the tutelage of Anthony Prospect who also serves as director and musical conductor. The Casablanca Steel Orchestra played a medley of classical selections interspersed with a couple of calypso tunes. They stood erect behind their gleaming pans, including a nine-pan bass; a six-pan bass, guitar, double tenor or soprano pan. Throughout their classical renditions, their eyes were steadfast on the baton of Mr. Prospect. They showed accomplished skills even though they are readers of western notation.

Caldera Caraballo
Reynold “Caldera” Caraballo, producer of Casablanca Steel Orchestra at BAM

Their performance of “1812 Overture,” which accorded them a prize and recognition in competition, in Trinidad, was superb. However, their inner spirits seemed to project most radiantly when they played calypso selections. No longer were their eyes fixed and their bodies rigid. One could hear the tapping of feet, one could see the jerk in the waist and spirit in the smiles. Even though they are an accomplished classical group, it was the calypso music that conjured the spirit in both players and audience. Michael Gabriel, their soloist is an excellent craftsman in both classical and calypso. In speaking with some of the performers after the show, the question was posed, what is your preference, calypso or classical music? The consensus was that calypso music was more natural, but classical music provided a different challenge.

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