“There was a time when Steel Pan music dominated the music scene in Guyana. It was exceptional to be heard and felt.” Those were the words of Steel Pan artist and enthusiast Mr. Oliver Pross.
This steel band technologist, teacher, enthusiast and loyal companion of this once dying craft has made some valuables investment in his own way to see and allow this venture to flourish.
It has been over three weeks now since the Mashramani Pan-O-Rama, hosted by Republic Bank on February 21, 2009 at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall. And Pross is still on a high given the success of the pan from Plaisance Community High..
Mr. Pross has been exposed to steel pan music since he was a child growing up in Georgetown right next door to the Campbellville Community Centre, but according to him, ever since the ‘Administration of the Nation’ changed back in the 60s, the art and love of the art form has diminished somewhat.
Pross who studied the fundamentals of steel pan music in the United States, back in 1995 through 1998, said that when he was there he was amazed to see that those who were tightly and truly involved with this kind of musical characteristic, were not Blacks or Indian, what we are so accustomed to seeing here. They were the whites who grabbed hold of it and did all that they can do to make it better, to make the sound they are trying to let be heard be their own.
Pross added that there has been a decline in the production of steel pan music and culture here in Guyana, and the problem stems from the lack of support from those that can make a difference.
“I think the government should be doing more to help the situation, providing job opportunities for those that do have the experience in this field.”
The reason for saying this, he says, is simply because being placed in the position to redirect this aspect of the once dying art form has done some not good things. Take for instance ‘Carifesta.’ Prior to its official ceremonies and highly publicized events held in Guyana; there were discussions about the Government bringing in a whole lot of brand new steel bands and instruments, to help with the assistance of providing a ‘National’ band and sound so to speak.
“Some one hundred and something instruments were said to be brought to Guyana from Trinidad.”
In the end half of that number never came for the National Steel Orchestra. He added, “That was not good thing to do.”
“Most local steel pan artists and bands were not even called to perform or lend their services. I am not saying that we shouldn’t ask for help or try to make something look nice, but the development of anything, craft, oneself, one’s homeland, has to start from here.”
Currently there are few bands in schools here in Guyana. This situation can be changed, he added.
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