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Pan grips Woodstock
“Pan is de man!” Without question Woodstock, Illinois believes so, after witnessing the groundbreaking production of the Cousoumeh Caravan 2017 Tour, a 37-member ensemble of the Siparia Deltones Institute of Steel Drums and Music.
A riveting tale of personified genres of music that all started with drum, an African slave woman who gives birth to jazz and calypso, whose progeny becomes steelpan. Gripping the sold out audience of the Woodstock Opera House with elements to play on the senses, the narrator sets the scene with imaginative openings, as the ears found meaning with songs that found synchronicity throughout the tale. While the orchestra played, an overhead projector forced the eyes to digest the reality of steelpan’s story; from the oppression of slavery, the triumph of the African spirit found its way through music.
Cementing the glory of our national instrument to a public that knows it well (Liam Teague teaches at the University of Illinois), the production received rave reviews and established a solid partnership with Chicago’s own Culture, Arts and Music Organisation (CAM) who hosted the band for the week.
Players ranging in age from six to 32 were celebrated throughout the Woodstock and Crystal Lake area as the band accepted invitations to share music at high schools and fairs, and also cultural exchange with local steelpan band, Potts and Pans.
In the words of CAM director Matt Potts, “Although we frequently talk about Trinidad’s culture to our students and audiences here at CAM. Having the amazing members of Deltones Institute of Steel Drums and Music to talk firhand was incredible. I cannot even recount how many people came up to me after attending the concert and said ‘I now understand why you (CAM) care so much about this culture’.
“It’s one thing for us to talk, but it’s another thing completely for our community to experience. Massive thanks to Deltones for helping us show the people of Woodstock how incredible Trinidad culture, and people, really are.”
The life of Drum, Story of Steel is being requested already stateside and plans are being made to do an 15-state tour in 2018.
Deltones Institute executive director Akinola Sennon was high in praise of the support the band received from the Prime Minister’s Office Sports and Culture Fund and band sponsor Petrotrin.
(Reporting by Peter Ray Blood)