Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

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Louise McIntosh of the Pan Pipers Music School - Trinidad & Tobago

She was a former student of the great music phenom, Winifred Atwell. And as the founder of and an educator at the Pan Pipers Music School, she provided the entree point and stepping stone to the careers of many great Trinidad and Tobago musicians.

In 2005 Ms. Louise McIntosh was awarded the Gold Public Service Medal of Merit for outstanding and meritorious service to Trinidad and Tobago in the sphere of music.

When Steel Talks ‘Celebration of Women in Pan’ logo

Louise McIntosh

Founder and principal of the Pan Pipers Music School in St. Augustine, and Holder of the ARCM from the Royal College of Music, London, she has been arranging for the steelband since 1966 and has conducted successfully at “Pan is Beautiful” I, II, & III competitions, reaching the finals on all occasions. Miss McIntosh represented Trinidad & Tobago with Pan Pipers in 1985 at a Non-aligned Youth Festival in New Delhi, India.

Miss Louise McIntosh was a student of the Trinidadian musician Winifred Atwell.

Students of Pan Pipers Music School have won numerous awards and trophies at the biennial Trinidad & Tobago Music Festival and have launched successful careers in music both in Trinidad and Tobago and abroad.

Louise McIntosh, founder of the Pan Pipers Music School in St. Augustine, east Trinidad, passed away on Sunday, September 6, 2009.

The institution has trained such musicians as Chantal Esdelle, Satanand Sharma and Kwame Ryan.

At Pan Pipers, youngsters were introduced to several instruments including pan, piano, flute and violin; McIntosh entered a mixed ensemble in Trinidad & Tobago’s biannual music festival, having pan compete against other conventional instruments. This move in 1976 was a very radical one, and the music festival organisers tried to have Louise’s students disqualified.

Even in the 70s - and in the ‘home’ of pan - it was considered not quite a ‘real’ instrument. Not only were Louise’s students eventually allowed by the foreign adjudicator to perform -- they came second. In following years they won repeatedly. Louise McIntosh’s first link with the steelband world came in 1966 when she first arranged for Hilltones in Tunapuna. Although they did not move past the semi-finals, Harold Headley from Tripoli - who lived nearby - copied McIntosh’s arrangement and with it, won the solo competition.

Louise McIntosh was a quiet, charming, dignified and talented musician and teacher who was much loved by her students. Her legacy remains in the many who are now recognized and career musicians in their own right.

by Kim Johnson

“...As a past pupil of Pan Pipers I can only reiterate what so many of my fellows have said, that she not only ‘exhumed’ an excellent standard in performance from all of us, but also equipped us with a sense of community,... purpose, discipline, and responsibility that we have been able to exercise in our personal and professional lives. She guided us to numerous music festival champion performances as pianists, panists, and vocalists; trained me, Chantal Esdelle, and Harold Headley to become two of Trinidad and Tobago’s Champion pan soloists, and furnished local programmes like “Twelve and Under”, “Teen Talent”, and “Dateline” with guests, participants, and winners alike.
“As a part of the Tunapuna community Louise led the steelbands in her area to several Pan is Beautiful Steelband Music Festival finals; Klondykes and Pan Pipers in Pan is Beautiful I and II, and Exodus Steel Orchestra in Pan is Beautiful III. This was no more than a continuation of a legacy she began with Hilltones Steel Orchestra of Tunapuna which she conducted at the National Steelband Festival in 1966, a feat that earned her the accolade of being the first woman to conduct in the steelband music festival. Just as there are many who encountered her in the steelband world, there are many others who were touched by her work as a music teacher and choir mistress in the Primary and Secondary school system, where she served as a teacher for twenty-six years teaching at Tunapuna Anglican, Morvant Anglican, All Saints E.C., St. Phillips Anglican, St. Augustine Senior Comprehensive, Tranquility Secondary, Tunapuna Secondary, and Rio Claro Secondary.

“Ms. McIntosh was dedicated to family as can be attested to by those who can easily call her mummy: Pat, Lynda, Lystra, and Rachel and by her niece and nephew and great-niece and great-nephews. Louise has been honoured for her work by the country (Medal of Merit, Gold), her community, and her alma mater (Bishop Anstey Girls High School).”

by Chantal Esdelle 

St. Augustine Secondary Steel Orchestra has won ten (10) national titles: seven (7) Panoramas and three (3) Steelband Festivals. The band has toured Barbados, France, Scotland and South Africa and has produced music teachers, solo performers, innovators, entrepreneurs and administrators. It all began in 1979, when then-St. Augustine Secondary music teacher, Louise McIntosh, decided to make her music class to the Sforzata panyard which was then located at the corner of Warren Street and the Eastern Main Road. This established a relationship between Sforzata and St. Augustine Secondary that saw the band visit the school to perform as part of the school’s annual Carnival program, and eventually agree to host St. Augustine for its first foray into national competition, - the Junior Panorama competition of 1980. The band played Tobago Gyul and placed 3rd. Osmond Downer, Nervin Saunders, Pat Adams and Andre Moses were later to play key roles in the band’s success story, but it was Louise McIntosh’s insistence that the steelpan should be a part of music education that got the pan tradition started at St. Augustine.

On a more global scale, Pan Trinbago’s formalization of a more structured approach to Pan in Schools is greatly indebted to the impassioned pleas of two music teachers, Louise McIntosh and Ms. Clement, who came to Pan Trinbago’s 1980 Convention and insisted that the body do something to put the steelpan in a central position in the formal music curriculum for schools in Trinidad and Tobago. In response to those pleas a Pan in Schools Committee was formed which included the then-Music Curriculum Officer in the Ministry of Education, Alma Pierre as well as Jerry Jemmott, Selwyn Tarradath and Andre Moses. The first initiative of this committee was to organise the inaugural School Steelband Music Festival in 1981. This initiative brought a lot of music teachers into the Pan in Schools loop with a focus on scored music, and thereafter the call for music literacy and the steelpan as the instrument of choice for music education, became much louder.

It would take another twenty (20) years of agitation before, on the Pan in Schools Coordinating Council’s (the PSCC) instigation, the Pan in the Classroom Unit was set up in the Ministry of Education in 2003. Once again the fruition of this dream is indebted to the strident voices like those of Louise McIntosh’s and Ms. Clement’s and also the selfless dedication of pioneers in Pan in Schools like Nervin Saunders, Mc Donald Redhead, Annette Griffith, the Lee Macks, “Moose” Joseph, Sonny Danclair and so many other patriots who gave their time and commitment to the cause of Pan in Schools over so many years.

And so ‘Louise McIntosh wherever you are compere, just for you we come out with real fire this year’ and the years to come and salute you for the foundational role that you played in the formalization of Pan in Schools.

by Andre Moses

Louise McIntosh
Louise McIntosh

In 2005 Ms. Louise McIntosh was awarded the Gold Public Service Medal of Merit for outstanding and meritorious service to Trinidad and Tobago in the sphere of music.

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