Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan


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Meet Luz Carime Santa-Coloma - New York University, New York

“I can honestly say that playing with CrossFire at the Panorama competition was the most fun I have ever had on stage...” - She knows first-hand that Pan is much more than an instrument. She has lived the experience.   In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - musician, panist, singer-songwriter and student at the prestigious NYU percussion program, Luz Carime Santa-Coloma shares her views and experiences with Pan, the culture and the steelpan art form.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive


WST - “Tell us about  Luz Carime Santa-Coloma?”

Luz C. - “I'm 20 years old. I was born in Brooklyn but moved down to West Palm Beach, Florida at the age of five and was raised there. I began my journey with music in the third grade when I started piano lessons, which continued up until my last year of high school. I started percussion in middle school and attended Dreyfoos High School of the Arts, where I focused mainly on concert and orchestral percussion. I auditioned for NYU with that classical mindset, however, that quickly changed when I moved here and was exposed to so many different opportunities and styles. ”

WST - “When and how did you first become associated with the steelpan instrument? Were you familiar with it before attending NYU? ”

Luz C. “My first experience with the steelpan started here at NYU. Before I came here, I had known the instrument existed, but that was about it. I was never in a position where I had the chance to learn it.”

WST - “What keeps your interest and passion for the instrument, its culture and music going? ”

Luz C. - “I am constantly amazed at how much fun I have every single time I stand behind a pan. There has never been a second when I wished I was doing something else. It's an instant mood booster, and in an ensemble setting, you can feel the positive energy radiating from the people around you.”

Luz Carime Santa-Coloma
Luz Carime Santa-Coloma

WST - “NYU's commitment to the steel band has been phenomenal; what is your take on this level of involvement?”

Luz C. - “I think it's great. Steel band is one of my favorite ensembles at NYU, and we all have so much fun together as a class. Our professor, Josh Quillen, is really motivational and a great director. I think on top of the ensemble really enjoying the material he assigns, we also don't want to disappoint him, which adds to our level of commitment. When we get out of a particularly rough rehearsal, we're all a little bummed because we know we could have done better. ”

WST - “When you signed up for NYU’s percussion program, were you immediately aware that participation in the steelpan ensemble was mandatory?”

Luz C. - “I wasn't aware it was mandatory, in fact I didn't even know there was a steel band ensemble. I was pleasantly surprised and very excited to learn a new instrument when I started my first year at NYU.”

WST - “What are your instruments of choice, in addition to the steelpan?”

Luz C. - “I really enjoy marimba and African percussion. There's a West African Gyil and Percussion ensemble here at NYU that I actively participate in. I've learned a lot about hand drumming, shekere and the gyil. Outside of percussion, I play around with guitar and piano to write some of my own compositions, mostly all singer-songwriter material.”

WST - “What are your views on the steelpan, in relation to other “conventional” musical instruments? ”

Luz C. - “I think the steelpan is an amazing instrument. The sense of community and the cultural history behind it is beautiful. Stylistically it is a very diverse instrument and I think that's incredibly important with the way music has been progressing. 

WST - “Last year (2014) you participated in New York's Panorama competition with CrossFire Steel Orchestra. Describe that experience?”

Luz C. - “I can honestly say that playing with CrossFire at the Panorama competition was the most fun I have ever had on stage, behind any instrument. The whole process was exhilarating, from the rehearsals at the pan yard up until the end of the performance. Nothing else mattered but steelpan and having fun. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, and the food! Incredible. I'm truly grateful for that experience, and I absolutely can't wait to do it again.”

WST - “How has your exposure and involvement with the steelpan instrument and culture impacted on your overall music agenda? ”

Luz C. - “Steelpan has taught me that music should always be a process that is enjoyable. If at times I find myself unhappy when I'm playing, I try to stop and ask myself why I feel that way and what can I do to change that. I try to take my experience with steelpan and apply that energy and excitement to everything I play. ”

WST - “Have you ever had challenges in illustrating/explaining the actual concept of the steel orchestra, and/or your own role in it - to friends, family?”

Luz C. - “Not really, after I explain the general idea of the steelpan, my friends and family are able to recognize what I'm talking about if they weren't already familiar with the instrument.”

WST - “What genres of music most pique your interest - what is your passion?”

Luz C. - “I enjoy all genres, and learning about the history and influences behind different types of music. If it grooves and it's good, I like it!”

WST - “Any final thoughts related to Steelpan, and music in general?”

Luz C. - “Music is truly a universal language. So much can be transferred and passed down through musical styles around the world and throughout time. It's a tool to communicate with others and express ourselves. I really think we are blessed to have such an amazing art form within our reach, and I am so lucky to be a part of the ever growing and changing world that is music. ”

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