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Lydians create pan history
Another chapter in the colourful history of the steelband was written at 9.35 pm on Friday when the Lydian Singers mounted a stage in the panyard of Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove Steel Orchestra in Woodbrook to render the band’s 2012 Panorama offering Archbishop Of Pan. It was the first time a full choir had performed in a panyard for the launch of a band’s Panorama selection. The occasion was a reminder, also, that it was a milestone achievement for a choir to vocalise a song composed by a pannist, had lyrics written by a calypsonian, and musical arrangement administered by an esteemed multi-instrumentalist.
Archbishop Of Pan is a musical tribute to the late musicologist Dr Pat Bishop, composed by Len “Boogsie” Sharpe with lyrics by Gregory “GB” Ballantyne, arrangement by Leston Paul, and vocalised by The Lydian Singers. It had its genesis during Boogsie’s emotional performance at Bishop’s memorial service at the All Saints Church on Marli Street, Port-of-Spain last August, when he said he felt “an obligation to write a tribute to Pat”. Months later, when he completed the music and had titled it Bishop of Pan, it was taken to mas’ icon Peter Minshall to lend an ear, and offer comments. Minshall contended that “arch” should be added to the title as, according to him, “Pat could never be a mere Bishop.”
Approximately an hour after the Lydians’ stage appearance, in which some creative choreography was embedded to give meaning to the song’s lyrics, the massive crowd jammed into the venue had a preview of the musical challenge Boogsie will be mounting for this year’s National Steelband Panorama title when Phase II gave a spirited showcase of his initial arrangement of the song. In the interim, and adding value to the evening’s playbill were performances by Saphonics and Witco Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, and calypsonian The Original De Fosto Himself (Winston Scarborough). Saphonics opened at 8.30 pm and set the entertainment tone with a lively, rhythmic one-hour session of “golden oldies.” Desperadoes dug deep into its vast repertoire of selections to pull out classics such as Ordinary People, Party Tonight, In My House, and Let The Music Play, among others, while De Fosto offered one of his 2012 compositions appropriately titled Boogsie Sharpe.
Manager of Phase II Errol Skerritt said it would be “absolute sacrilege” for Archbishop Of Pan to be deemed merely a traditional “pan song,” and consigned to the dustbin of discards reserved annually for songs of this genre. “It is our dream that this truly revolutionary and inspirational piece would live on as a fitting tribute to the memory of a true icon of the entire planet,” he stated.
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