MUSICAL GEMS STEEL ORCHESTRA
Musical Gems Steel Orchestra is a conventional Steelband that was formally launched in November 2006 and, at that time, housed at Paragon Sports and Cultural Club of Cocorite, in support of the club’s outreach to the adjacent communities of Cocorite, St James, Diego Martin and Carenage.
Since 2011, although still linked to Paragon, the band has been located at 33 Hollis Street, Petit Bourg, where we have developed a close relationship with the surrounding communities. Of our thirty (30) all-year-round players, 80% are from the immediate neighbourhood and between the ages of 18 and 25. Musical Gems also possess enough instruments to put on a 60 player performance, as well as a trailer, 31 feet long, which we use for street parades.
The operations of the band are supervised by a committee madeup of band members, relatives and friends, the executive of which comprises a manager, a treasurer and a secretary. The band is duly registered with Pan Trinbago, the official governing body of the Steelband movement of Trinidad and Tobago.
Mission, Vision and Objectives
Mission: To make the world, through music, more humane
Vision: To establish a self-sufficient, community based, youth-centred organisation which uses mainly local resources, human and physical, and exemplifies people-oriented development
a. To create, perform and record Steelband music on an all-year-round basis
b. To explore and develop a brand of Steelband music that uniquely connects with the highest traditions of the art form
c. To enhance the improvement of the everyday lives of all band members
d. To exemplify the approach of looking within to tackle societal issues
e. To collaborate with related groups and institutions in pursuit of community development
As early as 2007, and uninterruptedly up to 2019, Musical Gems has participated in the annual Carnival celebrations of Trinidad and Tobago. The band’s participation has mainly included parading “on de road” in the Port of Spain area on Carnival Monday, as well as entering the National Panorama competition from 2012 to 2016.
a. From 2008 up to 2019 the band has paraded every year “on de Road”, competing each time in the prestigious Bomb competition organised by Pan Trinbago’s Northern region and placing first in 2014.
b. From 2012 to 2016 the band entered the National Panorama competition in the Small band category, reaching the semi-finals on two occasions. However, since 2017 we have been unable to meet the costs of entering.
From Carnival 2015 up to the present, Musical Gems has, every year, hosted St Joseph’s Convent, St Joseph, a Girls Secondary School, when the latter takes part in the National Junior Panorama competitions. In preparation for these competitions, the girls practise on our compound using our instruments. Musical Gems management team also handles the movement of instruments and other equipment to and from their competition sites. Musical Gems has also from 2017 conducted a number of workshops with Mt Hope Secondary School which included teaching students the art of Steelband music.
Since 2011 the band has played at various community functions such as church bazaars and family/sports days. In August 2016 the band hosted a two-week sports and music camp for ten neighbourhood children between the ages of seven and fourteen. On two occasions, 2015 and 2019, over the Easter weekends the band serenaded the nearby community bypa rading on the streets playing inspirational Steelband music appropriate to the season.
For the past two years, we have positioned a Steelband rack just outside our compound and have invited our immediate neighbours to deposit neatly packaged empty plastic bottles which we periodically deliver to a nearby recycling plant. Musical Gems also produces and bottles, for sale at a reasonable price, a limited supply of guava juice from fruit trees located on our compound.
4.Concerts / Recordings:
Between August 2014 and September 2018, Musical Gems organised and performed at five ticketed concerts, four of which involved vintage Calypsonians including Lord Superior, Relator, Composer, Funny, Mudada and Luta. At these concerts, the band not only played our own pieces but also provided musical accompaniment for the aforementioned calypso legends.
In December 2017 the band produced a CD recording of six pieces which we have selectively distributed as a demonstration of our work.
In July 2016, the manager along with a young band member was interviewed about our activities at the Catholic television station, Trinity. The thirty-minute programme was entitled “Building Communities”
Musical Gems Steel Orchestra continues to associate and collaborate with Paragon Sports and Cultural Club.