By Aabigayle McIntosh
Reigning champions Hells Gate Steel Orchestra will be fiercely defending its title on August 4th when pan enthusiasts will converge at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) for the battle of the bands.
With a mixture of old and new faces, some of whom will be gracing the stage for the very first time, Arranger and Musical Director Khan Cordice is confident the band will deliver and surpass their 2019 performance.
The competition was not held from 2020 to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He told state media on Thursday, “Our players have been working tirelessly on a nightly basis just to ensure they are very comfortable within the space and that they are enjoying the experience,”
“I think what people neglect most of the time in the conversation about steelpans is the ability for people to just enjoy themselves in the pan yard, just really being a part of the process and being emersed in the steel pan culture,” he said.
Cordice said that most of the band members will be making their debut on competition night.
He said rehearsal began over a month ago and in preparation, they have a lot of new players, “young and green players” who are between the ages of 6 to 15 years.
The renowned pannist also explained that outside of competition, Hellsgate plays an instrumental part in training members of the community with classes on the weekends for people as old as 70 years and others.
“I run the adult version of the classes and that happens on Friday evenings, we not only play instruments, but from a musical theory perspective as well. It’s just a wholistic development as an Antigua and Barbuda living within our space”.
Eight bands are down to do battle on the night of the competition.
The bands are also currently doing Pan crawl across different parts of the island to give patrons an idea of what is to come.