Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 5th 2014 Contents B1
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A Japanese space probe named
after a falcon blasted off on
Wednesday, setting off on a six-year
round trip to an asteroid for samples
that scientists hope will help reveal
the origins of life.
The launch of the Hayabusa 2,
postponed twice because of bad
weather, comes less than a month
after a European Space Agency
probe landed on a comet in a pio-
neering mission. Hayabusa means
peregrine falcon in Japanese.
The probe will map the surface of
the asteroid before touching down,
deploying small explosives to blast a
crater and then collect resulting de-
Asteroids are believed to have
formed at the dawn of the solar sys-
tem and the probe s target is one
called 1999 JU3, which scientists
believe contains organic matter that
may have contributed to life on
The probe is expected to arrive at
the asteroid in mid-2018 and return
with samples in 2020, the year that
Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympic
Japanese asteroid probe sets off on six-year journey
She was born and raised in Brazil
and her parents are from Rio
Claro. Seeing her cradling a cua-
tro, one would think Tonya Silverthorne
would have stories to tell about her great
grandfather teaching her how to play a
serenal. No such luck.
Brazil and Rio Claro are known for its
strong parang heritage. But with the excep-
tion of her father related as cousin to the
matriarch of the legendary band La Familia
de Rio Claro, Tonya found the cuatro on
her own. "I was a student at Holy Name
Convent and the school was entering a
parang competition. I wanted to join but
the other girls had such lovely voices so I
didn t make the cut. But I was asked if I
would be interested in playing an instru-
ment," the 23-year-old said. "The cuatro
fit me best."
Now she plays for Voces de Promesa, a
young band managed by languages teacher
at St Augustine Girls High School Darcelle
Charles, which comprises past students of
junior champion bands.
Don t call her a cuatrista though. She
believes that title is
revered for the very
adept, skilled in
with a special
she is still
she has Grade
cy in music. But she can be considered a
pan woman. Following in her big sister
Tamra s footsteps to learn music, their
father enrolled Tonya at Mervin Saunders
pan school in Arouca. She learnt the rudi-
ments of music as early as five-years-old
and continued until the penultimate grade
at age 16.
"I know right? I was that close to reach-
ing Grade 8 but I was at that age of rebel-
lion. Continuous lessons on a Saturday
morning, getting up at 8 am. I felt I was
missing out on so much," she explained.
So she followed her sister again, this time
at Republic Bank Exodus Pan yard and
played tenor pan with the champion band
in St Augustine.
"Daddy was not too keen at first but he
was supportive. My first Panorama was in
Lower Six. He didn t deny me the oppor-
tunity. It was some leeway to have some
fun. Besides, my sis played in Panorama
when she was 13. So I was not the first to
do this," she said.
The exposure to a Panorama finals and
later, her interest in the cuatro is strongly
based on her love for music and a sup-
portive father, who has encouraged her to
do the best she can.
With her interest in cuatro, also in
Lower Six, came lessons. And there s
Mr Cummings, a Brazil resident and
parrandero, who showed her more
chords and how to
play a castillian.
Her major influences are Los Alumnos
de San Juan led by Alicia Jagessar and La
Familia de Rio Claro led by Ramona
Granger, they are mix of the contemporary
and the traditional which sustains her love
for the age-old art form.
"I see myself continuing with parang.
When I play with my band, I feel connected.
When I practise, it is fun. I never see it as
a chore. When I have children, I want to
pass it on to them," she said.
She does not believe parang is a
dying art form. As a product of
the secondary school parang com-
petition, Tonya, like other young musicians
have continued to create and perform. Her
friends, who do not play in the band, enjoy
coming along to performances and dancing
to the music.
"It s like one family, when I play out.
There is an ease to dancing with a stranger.
Parang really gives you a warm, fuzzy feel-
ing," she said.
Plus, she sees the next generation of par-
randeros coming behind her.
"When you go house to house, and we
play at other family homes, you would see
a little one playing a maracs and another
playing a cuatro.
"I would also like to think parang is
evolving. While the competition
aspect of the art form brings
out the performance in us,
it is like an exam. Why be
recognised in that format?
But in creativity, we pre-
serve the tradition," she
Tonya just graduated
from UWI, Mona with a bach-
elor s degree in geology. Putting
down the cuatro during her studies in
Jamaica was hard for her but she caught
up with the band during the Christmas
vacations. Now that she s back home and
preparing for the world of work, parang is
again up at full speed, ready to perform
with her band. And what about Panorama?
Yes, she s ready for that too.
Tonya Silverthorne's interest
in the cuatro is strongly based
on her love for music and a
supportive father, who has
encouraged her to do the best
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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