“It has been 50 years, and we jamming still; 50 years, with musical talent and skill; 50 years of pan music in the air; 50 years, with passion, style and flair; 50 years of providing the nation with pulsating steelpan music that helped in uniting us as a people,” Senator Richard S Lewis said of the Halcyon Steel Orchestra on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary as a champion progenitor of steelpan music.
Lewis, the United Progressive Party’s candidate for the St John’s Rural West Constituency made the remarks recently as he donated a number of polo shirts and assorted drinks to the steel band which hails from the Gray’s Green community.
Halycon’s Captain, Dwayne Mussington, and Fitzroy “Blakie” Philip, a longstanding band member, accepted the items on behalf of the band.
In making his presentation and offering his congratulations to Halcyon, Lewis — who is also the Minority Leader in the Senate — pledged his continued support to the band which has embarked on a series of events to commemorate its 50 years of existence and providing enriching steel band music for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, and indeed, the world.
In a video made for the occasion, Lewis took the opportunity to congratulate the Halcyon Steel Orchestra, which he called a “leading cultural institution in our Gray’s Green community”.
He also gave a brief history of the Halcyon Steel Orchestra and its successful emergence in the St John’s Rural West community. He spoke of the role that Sir Selvyn Walter (now deceased) played in the life of the band and his delivery on a campaign promise he made 50 years ago to residents to establish a steel orchestra in the community.
The establishment of the band gave birth to a great cultural institution. Lewis commended and thanked Sir Selvyn for his hard work, along with the help of other founding members, to build that solid foundation on which the steel band continues to exist.
“We thank him and the other founding members for their major contribution to the development of Halcyon,” Senator Lewis said.
It was with a lot of pride that Lewis highlighted the historic development and the crowning achievements of the Halcyon in the steelpan competition arena”.
“The development of Halcyon Steel Orchestra continued under the management of Dr the Hon. Baldwin Spencer, Parliamentary Representative for St John’s Rural West from 1989 to 2018, and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda from 2004 to 2014. Dr Spencer continues to play a major role in keeping the band relevant.”
Lewis was full of praise for the role that Dr Spencer played and thanked him for his contribution to the advancement of steelpan music in the community.
“Halcyon has been a dominant force in the steelpan fraternity in Antigua and Barbuda. This is quite evident in the fact that from 1971 to present, the band won a whopping 13 Panorama Championships – 1975, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2016. The only steel band to ‘four peat’ in the history of the Panorama Competition,” he added.
“For all of us who grew up in the community, Halcyon Steel Orchestra played a critical role in our cultural upbringing and awareness,” he added.