Pictured, left to right: Marcus Ash, Quill Bathelemy, Andrius Richard Edwide & Joshua Muroi.
History was made in Saint Lucia last night when the steelband from our small community won the National Panorama Competition that had traditionally been dominated by large and wealthier bands from the north of the island. As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, the Laborie Steel Orchestra brought the trophy back to its home village for a weekend of well-deserved celebrations.
“I am glad to be part of that history”, says Marcus Ash, drill master for the PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars of Trinidad, who came to Laborie with six other members of that band to work with the Laborie band, and who conducted last night’s performance. “When I first heard the arrangement of the song, I was so impressed, I told myself ‘what the hell am I doing here?’, but we shaped the song and look, we took that trophy!”.
The beautiful and intelligent song arrangement was the work of 19-year old Andrius Richard Edwide, one of the original members of the Laborie band, who first arranged a Panorama song in 2015. “I’m so excited”, he said right after the announcement of the prizes, “we had so much energy tonight, I played like I won it already”.
When asked about his arrangement, Edwide said: “I’ve learned a lot from Andy Narell, he has been working with our group every year for the past 5 years, and I’ve been studying his arrangements. I played his music in Trinidad with Birdsong, and I also learned a lot from Liam Teague and Marcus Ash from Silver Stars”.
Part of the winning performance, at Darren Sammy Field, 16 July 2016.
“This victory is the product of team work” says Len Leonce of Labowi Promotions, the parent organisation of the Laborie Pan Project, “and the pillar at the heart of that team is band leader Quill Barthelemy, she has put so much work, so much energy into that steelband, Laborie is so proud of her, and she deserved to win tonight”.
“I knew it was coming”, said Barthelemy as she was celebrating at the Darren Sammy Stadium after the announcement, “it’s practice that made us win, practice is key. These kids have a lot in them, all we had to do is work hard. And Marcus Ash really helped us, he brought out the real Laborie Steel Band. I’m so happy!”
The Laborie Pan Project is a community-based volunteer initiative that seeks to develop musical and artistic talent in the community, and to give participants the opportunity to engage in a meaningful social activity and to gain pride and self-confidence in the process. Group members are between 6 and 21 year old, with most of them still attending school, “and doing very well”, says Barthelemy.
Next week the Laborie Pan Project will host a Brazilian percussions workshop with Dr. Jason Koontz of Eastern Kentucky University, who led a team of five US-based players in the steelband and who helped to strengthen its rhythm section.
Many more activities are planned for the celebration of the Laborie Pan Project’s 10th anniversary, and the players and organisers are grateful to the community for its continued support.
For more information about the Laborie Steel Pan Project, visit http://laboriepan.org.