Dr. Kenyon Williams, Professor of Music at MSUM, recently returned from two weeks abroad in Trinidad as a part of his spring sabbatical. While in Trinidad, he performed in an historic ensemble, the 2013 Birdsong Steel Orchestra as a part of the island’s annual Panorama competition. Panorama, known by steelpan lovers as the “Superbowl” of pan, is an island-wide competition involving hundreds of steel bands, thousands of performers, and live radio and television broadcasts across the nation.
The Birdsong Steel Orchestra took the unprecedented step of inviting not only an American arranger to write for and direct the group (legendary jazz pannist Andy Narell), but also inviting over 40 non-Trinidadians, including Professor Williams, to participate in the 120 piece ensemble. Members came from the US, France, Switzerland, Taiwan, Japan, England, and Martinique flew down to perform. This band will be the feature of not one, but two separate documentaries about the evolving status of steel pan music around the world. A video capturing the ensemble in rehearsal is available on Youtube.