Big crowd for Rhapsody in Steel

By Rory Daley Observer writer

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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HUNDREDS of patrons turned up at the Karram Speid Auditorium on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew, for Rhapsody In Steel, on Sunday afternoon.

The show featured Trinidad-born, Toronto-based master pannist Darren Sheppard, as well as University of the West Indiesâs (UWI) Panoridim Steel Orchestra, and Harold Davis.

"This is the third year and so far, the concert has raised on average of around $500,000," Audley Betton, chairman of the fund-raising committee at the Church of St John the Evangelist -- the organisers, told the Jamaica Observer.

Sheppard's inclusion was part of the organisersâ attempt to transform the steel pan music show into a calendar event.

"We're trying to get enough corporate sponsorship to bring a steel pan band from Trinidad & Tobago for next year," Betton said.

UWI's 26-piece Panoridim kept the audience happy with a good blend mix of songs. Between their sets, singer Sherieta added her flavour to the event.

Sheppard shared musical duties with Harold Davis garnering continuous applause from the opening number Bob Marley's Jammin. The pair closed the show.

The master pannist spoke to the Observer about his vision for the electronic steel pan.

"There are electric versions of most instruments, pianos, drums, guitars, so why not the steel pan," said Sheppard.

Developed by UWI Professor Brian Copeland, Sheppard has been using a prototype of the Genesis Pan (G-Pan) for five years and is providing much-needed feedback. He first brought it to Jamaica last year.

"The plan is to send the finalised G-Pan to the United States later in the year for production," he said.

Sheppard isn't, however, ready to retire his old trusty traditional steel pan yet, but he sees the benefits of going digital.

"The G-Pan gives the musician a wider range of tones than the regular pan," he said.

The G-Pan's advantage doesn't stop there. The android-based device can mimic other instruments. The digital interface means the steel pan can be easier integrated into sound equipment. Recording also is easier with the G-Pan.

"You can also electronically score your performance. But like any digital device there are the occasional bugs, plus if you have no power, you canât play it," he explained.




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