Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Chihiro Ninomiya  of Japan

It was love at first sight or fate as she calls it. She is a player  for Panland Steel Orchestra in Japan and World Champion Phase II Pan Groove of Trinidad and Tobago.  In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks, Chihiro Ninomiya of Japan,  shares how the steelpan instrument has impacted her life and her love for Phase II Pan Groove.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive


WST - “Tell us about yourself?”

Chihiro N. - “私の名前は、にのみやちひろです。”




現在は、楽器屋さんと、Panvillage steelpan schoolという、日本の大きなスティールパン教室でスティールパンを教えています。最近は、アレンジメントにも興味があり、少しずつアレンジの活動も始めています。


“My name is Ninomiya Chihiro. I’m 27 years old. I teach and play the steelpan in Japan. I started playing the piano at the age of three. While studying percussion at university of music in Japan I was introduced to the steelpan. I am involved with the steelpan daily. Currently, I am teaching steelpan at  music shops, the Panvillage steelpan school and a large steelpan class.”

WST - “What band do you play for in Japan, and how large is it?”

Chihiro N. -私は、日本でPANLAND steel orchestraというバンドにダブルテナー プレイヤーとして所属しています!人数は30人前後なので、スモールバンドでしょうか。日本では、なかなかラージバンドで演奏する機会はないですが、楽しく活動しています!”  

“I play for Panland Steel Orchestra in Japan as double tenor player. We number around 30 people. We are a small band. There are not many opportunities to play in a large band, but we have fun.”

WST - “How active are you, how frequently do you play pan in Japan?”

Chihiro N. - “日本のお祭りやイベント、カフェやレストランなどで演奏活動をしています!週に1回はバンドの練習があり、月に2、3回のステージがあります。バンドとは別に、ソロで演奏したり、ギターやベースなどとライブをしたり、様々な活動をしています!”  

“I have concerts, festivals, and other events in the cafes and restaurants of Japan. There is band practice once a week. And there is a stage performance two to three times a month. Apart form the band you can play solo with a live bass or guitar. we have various activities.”

WST - “What other genres of music, beside soca (such as Japanese songs, etc.) do you play as a member of your band in Japan?”

Chihiro N. - “日本では、カリプソやソカも演奏しますが、その他に日本のポピュラーソング(J-pop)などもアレンジして演奏しています!

これは、私が所属するPANLAND steel orchestraで演奏した時の動画です。私がJ-popをアレンジしました!


“In Japan we play soca, calypso and also play popular songs as well as Japan (J-pop)
Below is a video from Panland Steel Orchestra. I arranged the J-pop! Please take a listen.”

PANLAND steel orchestra「Winter song」song by DREAMS COME TRUE

arranged by Chihiro Ninomiya http://youtu.be/zdFq3m8bJAw 

Chihiro Ninomiya
Chihiro Ninomiya

WST - “You are a member of the world champion Phase II Pan Groove. How did that come to be?”

Chihiro N. - “私は昔からBoogsieの音楽が大好きで、トリニダードで様々なバンドを見て、やはりどうしてもPhase Ⅱに入りたいと思い、Boogsieさんやドリルマスターにお願いをして、演奏させてもらえることになりました!!英語がうまく話せない私を助けてくれた日本人の友達にも、本当に感謝しています。”  

“I loved the music of “Boogsie” from the old days. I wanted to join Phase II. Also, my Japanese friends helped me with the English. I really appreciated that.”

WST - “How long have you been playing pan and how were you introduced to it?”

Chihiro N. - “スティールパンを始めて10年になります。始めた当時、日本ではまだあまり知られていなかったので、メディアに様々な場所(お祭りやイベント、カフェやレストラン、学校、ライブハウスなど)で演奏活動をして、少しずつ楽器を紹介してきました。”  

“I have been playing for 10 years now. At the time when I started, the steelpan was not know very much in Japan. With the concerts and festivals and media exposure we have introduced the instrument little by little.”

WST - “Your passion for the pan is obvious. When did you fall in love with the instrument?”

Chihiro N. - “はじめてスティールパンの演奏を見たのは、音楽大学に入学した時でした。スティールパンのサークルがあり、その演奏を見たのが最初です。


“I saw the steel pan for the first time when I was admitted to the University of Music. There is a circle of steelpan - I saw its first performance. It was love at first sight. I was attracted to the sound. The players were so happy. In addition, there is the passion of Panorama. I met a musical instrument  that was so much for the first time. It was a meeting of fate.”

WST - “This year was another championship year with Phase II - what was that experience like?”

Chihiro N. - “去年に続いて、本当に素敵な経験をさせてもらいました!

Phase Ⅱのメンバーが、皆本当にBoogsieの音楽が好きだというのが、演奏からも、すごく伝わってきました!私も本当に言葉にならない感情が込み上げてきて、Boogsieの音楽とPhase Ⅱのメンバーが大好きすぎて、ステージでは泣きそうでした!!!

Phase Ⅱの、迫力ある、人間らしいスティールパンの音が本当に大好きです!!”  

“Following last year, I was allowed a really nice experience! Feelings that there are no words for. Members of Phase II, music and “Boogsie” is much love. I was crying on stage. I really love Phase II - the powerful, sound of human steelpan...”

WST - “Do you play any other instruments?”

Chihiro N. - “スティールパンの他には、pianoとmarimbaとvibrafoneを演奏できます。”  

“In addition to the steelpan, I can play the vibrafone, marimba and piano.”

WST - “How popular is the steelpan instrument in Japan?”

Chihiro N. - “お祭りやイベントなど、たくさんの人が集まる場所で演奏したり楽器を紹介することで、少しずつですが、10年前と比べてとても認知度が上がったと思います。最近では、メディアでもたくさん取り上げていただけるようになりました!!”  

“The awareness of the instrument has increased a lot compared to 10 years ago. There has also been exposure in the media.”

WST - “If you change one thing in pan what would that be?”

Chihiro N. - “難しい質問ですね。


“That’s a difficult question. I can’t think of anything right now. I love Panorama.”

WST - “What is your favorite panorama arrangement?”

Chihiro N. - “私が好きなのは、This Feeling Nice, Woman Is Boss,  Birthday Party, Sweet and Sexy, Do Something For Pan, Archbishop of pan などなど、たくさんあります!



“This Feeling Nice, Woman is Boss, Birthday Party, Sweet and Sexy, Do Something For Pan, etc  Archbishop of Pan. I like a lot too. In Sweet there is a very catch phrase. It grabs the hearts of the people. After all, I love “Boogsie’s” music!”

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