By Latrishka Thomas
Three of Antigua and Barbuda’s finest musicians are representing the twin island at an international steelpan cultural exchange at the invitation of officials in Kagoshima prefecture, in the southerly Amami Islands of Japan.
On November 18th, 2019, Deputy Director of Culture in the Cultural Development Division, Khan Cordice, made the journey to Japan accompanied by two young people; a member of the Panache steel orchestra and Captain of the Princess Margaret School Serenaders Samanya Brazier and a member of the Hells Gate Steel orchestra and St Joseph’ s Academy Rhythm Masters — who placed 4th in the region in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) music exams — Jahfari Hazelwood.
Cordice, who whose arrangements led the Hells Gate Steel Orchestra to record eight victories, including this year’s Royal Caribbean International Antigua Commercial Bank Panorama competition, told OBSERVER media that the youngsters have been representing the small island competently.
“What we have been doing is just sharing. Our young people have been sharing about Antigua and Barbuda’s Culture. They have been learning about the Japanese culture so…we had a very fun experience sharing with food… but the young people have been really having a good time and have been representing Antigua and Barbuda well,” he said.
In fact, he said that the three of them were able to showcase their pan skills in a very innovative way.
He explained that their pans had already been shipped to their next destination in Japan but, “the Mayor somehow saw a video with myself and Jahfari [Hazlewood] and Samanya Brazier performing on the Ipad. Now we do have a digital steel pan app that we were just in the airport [using] and some of the Liaisons who were there, they recorded it and sent it to the Mayor so he asked us if we could have done a presentation like that on the Ipad for them since the pans weren’t there.
“And we just went and did it and the people really love it so on top of them being very new to the steelpan, they are now getting to see some of the innovations that have been happening with the steelpan.”
Moreover, the renowned pannist said that not only did they all benefit from the experience but an additional long-term reward is that “a lot of the Japanese locals have expressed interest in coming to Antigua and Barbuda”.
Meanwhile, Cordice shared his desire for Antigua and Barbuda to collaborate on other endeavours.
He said: “there is a lot that happens here infrastructurally that I think we can emulate in Antigua and Barbuda or sort of just look on and see how it can benefit us holistically as a nation”.
The Antigua-Barbuda contingent was invited to Japan for the period November 18th to 29th, with the expressed desire of the hosts “to have various cultural exchanges, especially with students in our towns to build grassroot friendship toward and beyond 2020”.
Yoron and Tokunoshima towns are the focal areas of the internal exchange, which is in part supported by the Secretariat of the Headquarters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.