When Steel Talks
caught up with Patrick Arnold, President of Pan Trinbago, the
world governing body for Steelpan, in New York. Arnold is here for the
home stretch in the preparations
of the 2005 World Steelband Music Festival (WSMF). "Everything is going fine; everything is in place, really," said a
satisfied-sounding Patrick Arnold, adding that competing steel orchestras
are expected in the Big Apple from around 16-17 June. The Pan
Trinbago president went to say that all the steel orchestras will be
accommodated at LaGuardia Airport Courtyard by Marriott, (the Marriott Hotel),
East Elmhurst, Queens, New York.
The WSMF Secretariat is into heavy marketing and promotion from their interim New York base; Arnold made mention of thrusts via the various media, including newspapers, radio and television outreaches.
Asked about the public's response to the show to date, Arnold said it had been 'great.' "We have been getting calls from all over...from Miami, California, San Francisco, Boston...Washington...the response has been tremendous, really" Regarding ticket sales though, at the time of the interview a couple days ago, Arnold had no idea of actual numbers.
Patrick Arnold went on record and extended his appreciation to the USSA - (United States Steelband Association); which he said has been of great assistance, "they have been helping with the promotion, they took flyers, posters," he said. Arnold also mentioned that USSA is responsible for the visiting steel orchestras' rehearsal spaces before the competition, saying that they will be going to the different [New York] panyards. Singling out the USSA president Anthony "Ike" Hinds, Arnold said that the former had been calling to make sure that things were in place, and for that - Pan Trinbago/the WSMF Secretariat was very thankful.
With such arrangements in place, that puts the visiting bands in a more fortunate position for rehearsal, if only for one day - given the extreme difficulty New York bands face annually to source rehearsal areas for the Pan season. Patrick Arnold noted that these were not panorama size bands that were participating in the WSMF, but contingents of about fifty musicians per band, playing classical music. Of course, the fact that they would only have about a day for their final practice sessions, contributes greatly to the unique circumstances surrounding any practice area arrangements. In fact, joked Arnold, he "had too many [rehearsal spaces] now."
On the subject of tickets, local area [New York] outlets would be receiving their quotas by Monday [June 6], according to Arnold . They have already been on sale via the box office at the Garden and Ticketmaster, and at least one other select sales area, since May 19 and 18, respectively.
The lone WSMF entrant from the United Kingdom, Sounds of Steel, withdrew sometime within the past three weeks. Asked about that, Arnold offered a two-fold reason which he thought contributed to that occurrence. Firstly, he saw it as partially a result of the UK not staging their own semi-finals, from which four entrants were usually chosen to move on to the finals; secondly, the other related reason was perhaps, that when the WSMF finals were moved from London, according to the Pan Trinbago president, "perhaps the only band that really wanted to come [Sounds of Steel] ...experienced maybe - difficulty in getting the finance for transportation to New York. "I think that was part of the problem there," declared Arnold. In fact Arnold went on to say that all bands were responsible for paying their own way to New York, with Pan Trinbago taking care of "local transportation" and accommodations when they got here.
While there have been CDs in 2005 produced from the annual national Panorama competition, Pan In The 21st Century and Pan Down Memory Lanes (all staged in Trinidad and Tobago), it is possible that the only recording done of the 2005 World Steelband Music Festival, will be solely for "archival purposes." Arnold cited the heavy fees which are generally incurred when recording at the Garden, including the cost of negotiating rights/licenses to performances at the venue.
WST asked Arnold to confirm one of the persistent subjects of chatter on the steelband message boards on the internet and the like - that the 2007 edition of WSMF would be held in Illinois, with the Northern Illinois University playing a major role [arranger Liam Teague and Clifford Alexis are both on the faculty there]. He said that Pan Trinbago had indeed met with them and that the Illinois crew had indicated an interest to be the 2007 hosts. While nothing has been signed off on, Arnold said that "a lot of plans had gone into dealing with it [WSMF] there [in Illinois]." Other countries can still consider themselves in the running as hosts, however, if they want to 'throw their hats in the ring' for consideration. "The bidding process [for 2007] is not yet closed, and certainly at this time, for 2009," continued Arnold, in response to additional queries on the matter, "we are open to any country that is interested" Arnold responded in part.
To wrap up, Arnold said that Dem Boys Steel Orchestra from Tobago, the World Champion Single Pan Band would also be coming to the Garden. Dem Boys is expected to perform their winning selections, as guest artistes of the event.
The WSMF comes off on Sunday June 19 at the Theater at Madison Square
Garden. Slated to perform: The Trinidad and Tobago Defence
Force, Skiffle Bunch, Exodus, and Sound Specialists of Laventille, from
Trinidad and Tobago; New Dimension from Grenada; CASYM from New York,
and Pan Masters from Canada. Doors open at 3:00 PM, and showtime is at 4:00. Full details and
ticket outlets are available fro m the WSMF web site at
C. Phillips, Basement
New York, June 6, 2005
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