School pan orchestra raising funds for trip to Canada
- School pan orchestra raising funds for trip to Canada
By Kim Boodram
Story Created: Aug 5, 2012 at 11:58 PM ECT
PLAYING AWAY: Members of the St Xaviers Private School Steel Orchestra during one of their recent international performances.
When one calls to mind pioneers, few may be aware of the fact that pan in schools was almost non-existent up to the 1980s.
This began to change, through the bold patriotism of schools like the St Xavier's Private School of St Joseph.
Today, what began as a small pan orchestra has blossomed into a full cultural ensemble, driven by 22 pupils who, according to coordinator Sir Gerard Ramsawak, have become trained 'ambassadors' of Trinidad and Tobago.
Now under the patronage of President George Maxwell Richards and Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards, the orchestra has in the past performed in the Netherlands, Germany, England, Ireland and Brazil.
Having been invited to perform at the Stratford Summer Music Festival in Ontario and the Canadian National Exposition in Toronto, Canada later this month, the band is now looking to raise funds for their August 14 departure.
"It is very costly to transport 22 performers and a full orchestra, plus an entourage," Sir Gerard said, "but these young people are taking Trinidad and Tobago to the world in a way that is unforgettable. People never forget when they see children perform."
During their performances abroad, the orchestra has been able to draw not only the Trini diaspora but has spread awareness of local culture where this country had never been heard of.
Some foreign performances, such as the group's visit to Germany, included school tours, where the pupils were curious about Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Gerard said.
Performances often end with a Carnival extravaganza, where the audience is invited to join the fully-costumed children onstage for a 'jump up'.
"St Xavier's pushes the culture hard," Sir Gerard said.
"In addition to the steelpan being taught from the time a child enters the school, every Carnival there is a calypso and steelpan competition."
This year's Canada performance of steel, song and dance will also feature costumes from band designer Rosalind Gabriel.
While the band has, through the years, received assistance in the form of service and discounts from such benefactors, as Caribbean Airlines, its first major sponsorship came this year, in the form of $20,000 from the Tourism Development Company.
Parents and the school also supplement the cost of the journey, which also draws sponsors from the country in which the performance is being held but rising costs have forced St Xavier's to turn what is usually a free concert into a fund-raising event.
"What these children do for this country is priceless," Sir Gerard said, "they are dedicated and disciplined performers who go out there and give their all with pure national pride."
St Xavier's will host its fund-raiser concert on August 11 at the school hall, Richmond Street, St Joseph, compound from 5 p.m.
For further information is available at 763 9445 and 759 8741.
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