NEW PARIS — Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close, approximately 200 people gathered at National Trail High School on Saturday, March 7, to participate in and watch the Gathering of the Pans Steel Band Festival.
According to National Trail Director Judy Jordan, the steel band festival gave students the opportunity to work with professionals in the Steel Pan World. It also provided the community with a night of good music.
For students, the events began the Friday before, when clinicians came to work with National Trail students. On Saturday, the other bands had individual sessions working with both clinicians. All the students learn about the Evolution of the Steel Pans. There was a mass band rehearsal before dinner and then the concert began. Each band plays for approximately 15-20 minutes and the show ended with all five bands playing two mass band tunes.
Jordan considered the night to be a success and thanked all who helped make the night a possibility.
“Mixing learning with fun is always a success,” she said. “I hope that it opened up [my student’s] idea of what other schools are doing and accomplishing with steel pans. I also hope that they met new people, gave 100 percent, and had fun.
“I want to thank our Clinicians: Chanler Bailey and Victor Provost; our sponsors: Wetzel Pan Stands and Pan Life Gear; NT Booster Club, Talawands Steel Band, Kekionga MS Steel Band, Glass City steel, Madison HS Steel Band, National Trail Advanced Steel Band students and parents, and everyone who attended.”
Seniors Kiara Cerrell, Ethan Pearson, and Seth Duning have all participated in the Gathering of the Pans in the past. For them, it is a great opportunity to see other steel bands in the area and interact with peers with like interests.
According to Cerrell, they spent all year practicing songs to perform for the festival. Then on Friday they worked with clinicians to “polish off” those songs.
For Pearson, it was one of the clinician songs that he enjoyed the most, titled “I’ll Be Okay.”
“[Victor Provost] really put a lot of nice stylings in that song, it sounds very nice,” Pearson said.
Duning enjoyed listing to the other bands and playing together with everyone at the very end.
“My favorite thing about this is playing together and getting to know other people in the area,” he said.
Cerrell also enjoyed meeting other groups in the area and interacting with them.
“Steel band is not a very common thing, so it is amazing to see other people so close to us who do the same thing. All these groups are very talented and that is my favorite thing about this event,” she said.
According to Jordan, planning is already under way for next year’s festival.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH