Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 27th 2013 Contents RON REID
Today, the Queen s Royal College
Foundation will stage as a key event
of The Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan
and Jazz Festival 2013, its third annu-
al International Steelpan Jazz Chal-
lenge at Queen s Hall, St Ann s. I am
honoured to join my colleague, Dr
Dawn Batson, as co-adjudicator for
an expectedly successful celebration
of arranging, improvisation and
The Challenge---a competition
geared to stage-side-format steel-
bands, with a maximum of 12 musi-
cians---encourages bands to combine
pans with brass, woodwind and/or
additional percussion instruments.
Ensembles choose from a pre-
selected list of songs by native and
Caribbean composers and arrange
their selections while employing the
techniques of re-harmonisation and
Though not a completely new idea---
this marriage of small ensemble
arranging and improvisation in steel-
band competitions---the Challenge has
prompted the producers to continually
look for novel ways to broaden the
competition s appeal.
I am encouraged by their efforts to
provide workshops to assist these
young musicians in improving the
skills not just for the sake of compe-
tition but for their professional careers
For this year s Challenge, the pro-
ducers have added two new awards
in order to recognise outstanding
improvisational skill on steelpan and
or any other ensemble instrument.
I hope that by next year s Challenge,
successful soloists or arrangers who
wish to pursue advanced study can
receive some scholarship assistance
through the Foundation.
This award can be matched by a
contribution(s) from a participating
sponsor, educational institution or
Over the last ten years, I have
become aware of several local com-
petitive and non-competitive events
for steelbands, and though I cannot
speak to the criteria for these com-
petitions or comment on the vision
for these events, I can speak to some
of the advantages I see for partici-
pating ensembles in the Challenge.
From a personal view, I see some
of these gains as:
• Opportunity for a collaborative
exercise in crafting an arrangement
in the ensemble s vision as opposed
to the single arranger focus.
• The opportunity to discover and
rework compositions from legendary
and emerging Caribbean composers.
• Opportunity, support and visibility
for a younger generation of arrangers
and steelpan soloists.
• Creative exploration and exper-
imentation with arranging for small
steel and/or combined instrumenta-
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt October 27, 2013
Jazz challenge today
This little woman from San City Steel Symphony is
focused during the band's performance of the test
piece Mr Pan Maker. PHOTO: SEAN NERO
tion. Experience that should be useful later in a
college or advanced study environment.
• Opportunity for more experienced musicians,
arrangers and composers to serve as advisers and
mentors to the small ensembles.
The Challenge is young and has tremendous pos-
sibilities for expanding locally and internationally.
Some of these initiatives may include reaching out
to high school and college ensembles (regionally
and elsewhere) and facilitating their participation
as guests with existing bands or competitors in the
The organising body should vigorously continue
the workshop series and strive to make the Web
site a more informative and interactive experience,
with related Web site links, study materials and
I urge and support the organising committee in
moving hastily towards these short-term goals and
enthusiastically look forward to Challenge 2013.
Ron Reid is an educator and musician. He
can be reached at email@example.com
held by The
with the San
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