Carnival Arts Conference, filled with Pan, Mas & Calypso


After a disappointing summer for lovers of the Carnival arts, the outlook is brighter for the fall.

October begins with the 8th Biennial International Carnival Arts Conference. A certain small virus forced the postponement last year, but Professor Haroun Shah and his team overcame extraordinary obstacles to put together a busy schedule October 1-3 at the Tabernacle, Powis Square London, W11 2AY.

For this dedication and faith, the organizers deserve our support. The conference is free and both concerts cost just £ 5 each in advance – the deal of the year!

There is something for everyone here, including surprises. For example, headlining the opening concert (7:30 pm Friday October 1) is the Rose of Sharon Steel Orchestra from… Nigeria. How many of us knew there were steelbands in Nigeria, let alone heard a play?


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They will be joined by British Calypsonians including the 2020 UK Monarch G-String, veteran Lord Cloak, D Alberto, De Admiral and Alexander D Great. We are also promised musical groups and ‘CalypsOpera’ by Trinidadian soprano Anne Fridal, who wowed audiences at Holland Park in August. A “TASPO and Friends” reunion commemorates the 70th anniversary of Britain’s first live steelpan music, when the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra performed, to everyone’s amazement, in front of the village hall in July 1951.

The Saturday morning session is devoted to calypso – “the first music of the Caribbean” as Mighty Tiger has described it – with speakers from the UK, Canada and Trinidad. After lunch (when there will be a chance to see calypso, steelpan and mas) exhibits, Professor Tina Ramnarine will give the first plenary lecture: “Steel Orchestras and Legacies of Indenture”, casting an Indian light from the ‘Is on the only acoustic instrument invented in the twentieth century.

Mas is the theme for Saturday afternoon: speakers include luminaries such as Clary Salandy (Mahogany) and Chris Slann (New Carnival Company). Topics include children and the disabled at carnival, carnivals in Barking, “Carnival and its digital landscapes” and an investigation of “diasporic dolls”, these evil characters from traditional mas.


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The day ends with a memorable evening for pan lovers. Concert # 2 will be a steelpan feast of St Michael & All Angels (celebrating their Silver Jubilee), Rose of Sharon, Nostalgia, Pan Nectar, Metronomes, Ebony and Mangrove.
Do not stay in bed on Sunday morning, as you must be at the Tabernacle for the start of ‘PANdemic’ at 9:30 am. Don’t panic, it’s a steelpan injection. First, a presentation of the very successful CarniVAX initiative, in which members of Nostalgia performed outside hospitals to encourage vaccination against Covid-19.

We’ll also hear about a series of steelpan music lessons from Delphina James and interviews with Dylan Mitchell (St Michael & All Angels) and Marlon Hibbert of Endurance SO. The second plenary lecture, by Dr Bowei Sonny Bowei, is worth hearing: “The rise of steel bands across Africa”.

Global exploration continues in the afternoon with “The Dawn of Steelpan in Sierra Leone” – another revelation – and “The Steelband Movement in
Antigua ‘. The session ends with a discussion on “The enlargement of the space of the national panorama”. Given the composition of the panel, it will be difficult to limit the debate to 60 minutes!

The work of the conference continues with two workshops for young people. Vernon Thomas will host the premiere, on Saturday October 9, devoted to the manufacture of steelpan accessories. The second, on October 16, will explore the differences between the traditional farmhouse and the farmhouse, led by Ros Alexander of UKON Careers.

steelpanconference.com; tickets from: steelpanconference.eventbrite.com; for more information, email Haroun Shah: [email protected]; Phone. : 07971 334414; Laila Shah: [email protected]; Phone. : 07411 739918.


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