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
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
"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
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
"St Xavier's pushes the culture hard," Sir Gerard
"In addition to the steelpan being taught from the time a child
enters the school, every Carnival there is a calypso and steelpan
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.
Roj (Roger James)
The owner of Roger's Trinbago Site/TnTisland.com