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STEEL DRUMS WOW THE CROWDS (article first published : 2005-09-26)

In a sun drenched Durban Botanic Gardens a few weeks ago, some 30 bands played with all their might to win one of the nine trophies that were up for grabs in the 11th Steel Drum Festival.

Learners, proud parents and grandparents and general spectators gathered to enjoy the morning of music in the beautiful surroundings.

St. Nicholas School Grade 9 band from Pietermaritzburg won the High School Trophy with the runner up being Ridge Park College. Rivermead Grade 6 band from Kokstad won the Primary School Trophy.

Bryan Clarke, the Director of the Steel Drum Foundation said: “We are incredibly proud of the growth of our project over the last 11 years. The bands who have won today have played their hearts out. St. Nicholas has won this trophy for the second year running. Their principal Mike Ford Is an enthusiastic supporter of the programme and they have five different bands. St. Nicholas school are dedicated to playing Steel Drums and their hard work is paying off.”

Editor of artSMart, Caroline Smart, was one of the judges. She commented that when evaluating a band, judges look at how they perform compared to other schools in their category, and they also look at the improvement over the year before. Caroline Smart has been a judge at this event since it first started, 11 years ago. She commented at the prize giving that the change over the years, and in particular this year was extraordinary. Initially there was more bashing of the drums than music, but the contestants are becoming extremely proficient and the range of music now includes a few classics and many popular songs in addition to the old favourites.

After overcoming initial nervousness, everyone who performed at this year’s festival showed a love for this wonderful rhythmic music. Energy filled the air as dozens of KZN learners beat large half-moon shaped steel drums, eyes sparkling with concentration and vitality. Hand actions and some dancing completed a delightful day.

Apart from the High School and Primary School trophies, other awards included the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Spirit Trophy which is awarded to the band that captures something a little different. This went to Maris Stella School.

The artSMart Rising Star Trophy recognises a performer who shines above his or her colleagues with a professionalism and performance commitment. The trophy was presented to Willem Tier of the Browns School Grade 5 Band for “his focus and dedication of performance as well as his evident joy in creating music – and all this from a wheelchair.”

The Troubadour Trophy went to St. Nicholas Grade 6 Band. The Botanic Gardens Trophy was presented to the most improved junior school band and this was awarded to St. Henry’s Marist Bros’ School. The Steel Drum Foundation Trophy for the best single tune performed went to Embury College Grade 2 for Obladi Oblada.




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