There is a new pan-side in the in the pan yard! Epic Sounds is the newest steel orchestra to have been launched by the Pan against Crime Committee (PAC); making it the fourteenth (14) steel orchestra that have been launched under the program which began in 2008. The launching and handing over ceremony took place on Friday November 9, 2018 at the Calliaqua Hardcourt. Several dignitaries were on hand to witness the event including, Mr. Godred Pompey, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security and Chairman of the Pan against Crime Committee, Parliamentary Representative for the East St. George and Minister of Finance, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Collin John and Ms. La Teisha Sandy, deputy chairperson of the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP) among others.
The event which brought much energy and entertainment to a “wet and cold” evening in the Calliaqua community saw performances from the students of the Fair Hall Primary School, Symphonix Steel Orchestra out of Questelles - they were the very first pan side that was launched under the PAC initiative. They played skillfully under the leadership of Jomorro Francis and made it clear to the appreciative audience that they are a force to be reckoned with in the pan arena.
When it was their turn to play, Epic Sounds brought so much energy and life to the Calliaqua Hardcourt that it was reminiscent of the “Steel and Glitter” show during the Vincy Mas 2018. With their leader Johnney ‘JP’ Pompey on drums, Epic Sounds Steel Orchestra played a variety of musical genres including gospel, soca and dancehall. And to showcase their versatility in the music industry, some of the band members even turned vocalists and sang to the sweet music of their brand new steel pans.
Adding to the musical accompaniment and entertainment package at the event was the Police Band under the leadership of Assistant Superintendent of Police and Band Master, Mr. Daniel Hall. The Band as usual played with dexterity and had the crowd calling for more performances.
The handing over ceremony was not only about entertainment and fun, several uplifting remarks were delivered as well. In her remarks as representative of the NCCP, Ms. La Teisha Sandy informed the gathering that the NCCP was created to look at the causes of crime and formulate strategies to prevent incidents of crimes. She stated that since its formation, the NCCP has placed young people at the center of its programs because if the youths of the nation have more positive and productive things to do with their time, this can ensure that they grow up to live crime-free lives. Ms. Sandy pointed out that one of the issues that her organization has focused on is underage drinking.
According to her, the NCCP embarked on a campaign to educate young people and the populace on a whole about the legislation dealing with underage drinking which stipulates that the legal drinking age is eighteen (18) years. Ms. Sandy also told the gathering that persons under the age of 18 years should not only refrain from drinking alcohol but should not be selling alcohol or sent to purchase it. She said that the sensitization drive was well received by the public and many persons were not aware that there is a legal drinking age. Ms. Sandy also informed the audience that the NCCP is currently running a mascot competition in all of the secondary schools and tertiary institutions to design a mascot to aid the Commission in its crime prevention drive when it goes into the schools. She lauded the Pan against Crime initiative and stated that after ten (10) years the program is still well respected.
In his remarks, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Collin John said that Pan against Crime (PAC) is one of the anti-crime initiatives that was launched by Prime Minister, Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves in February 2008. According to the Commissioner, one of the objectives of PAC is to use the steel pan instrument as a means of occupying young people so they will not get caught up in criminal activities.
Commissioner John gave the assurance that the RSVGPF fully supports the Pan against Crime Initiative because it dovetails the many other programs that are in place to help build the nation’s youths and steer them away from a life of crime. He stated that the PAC is supported by the DARE Program, the Police Band Summer Program, the Coast Guard Summer Program and the Police Youth Clubs. According to the Commissioner, there are 27 Police Youth Clubs throughout SVG with a combined membership of 745.
Commissioner John informed the audience that every year, members the RSVG Police mentors, tutors and educate hundreds of our nation’s youths in many different subject areas with a view of keeping them of the “straight and narrow” pathway of life; a life that is free from crime and other nefarious activities. He said that the young people are the future leaders of SVG and it is incumbent on every citizen to nurture and mold them in the right direction.
Commissioner John congratulated the Pan against Crime Committee and Epic Sounds Steel Orchestra for the being the 14th pan side to have been launched under the program. He wished them perpetual existence.
He gave the assurance that the RSVG Police will remain a committed and dedicated partner in the Pan against Crime program and other initiatives that can reduce crime in SVG.
The keynote address was delivered by Hon. Camillo Gonsalves, parliamentary representative for East St. George and Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. Minister Gonsalves stated that Calliaqua is an epicenter of sports and culture and life and living in SVG; and that no effort is spared to enhance and grow the talents of persons in Calliaqua and East St. George.
He said that historically, while Calliaqua has had one of the best pan sides and some of the most talented pan players in SVG, there was a fall-off of pan in the Calliaqua area since 2015, because the Pan side that was in Calliaqua did not make it to Panorama competition nor did it compete in a number of Carnival activities for a number of years.
According to Minister Gonsalves, based on what was happening to pan in Calliaqua, he was approached by three (3) young and talented young people in the persons of Johnney ‘JP’ Pompey, Danielle Payne and Crystal Olliver, all members of Epic Sounds who told him that they will like to be a part of the revival of steel pan in East St. George. He said that the team presented him with their business plan with which he was very impressed and as the parliamentary representative of East St. George, he gave them the assurance that he will do his best; not only to enhance steel pan music in East St. George but to ensure that Epic Steel Orchestra receive new steel pans and be among the premiere steel orchestras in SVG.
The finance minister went on to say that Epic Sounds was invited to play at the opening of the Calliaqua Town Hall building and they were so impressive that they caught the attention of Prime Minister Gonsalves, who not only enquired about the band but promised to procure brand new steel pans for them. The minister further stated that Petrocaribe was approached to fund the purchasing of the steel pans for Epic Sounds to which they agreed and has spent over $60,000 to buy brand new chrome steel pans from Trinidad and Tobago. He also informed the audience that a Vincentian is currently in Trinidad and Tobago learning how to tune the steel pan and Petrocaribe has recently funded another Vincentian to go to that country to learn the art of pan tuning.
Minister Gonsalves expressed his thanks and appreciation to government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for their generosity to the PAC initiative. He stated that Epic Sounds is the 14th pan side that has been launched since the program and the Government of Venezuela has funded half of them.
He told the gathering Epic Sound performed at this year’s panorama competition and did a commendable job. But now that they have their own steel pans and pan yard, he expects them to perform better in 2019.
The keynote speaker congratulated the Pan against Crime Committee on the job that it is doing to guide the youths on the right path. He said that the initiative is bearing fruit because instead of choosing to be on the road, liming on the block or getting into all manner of mischief, the young people chose to come to the Calliaqua Playing Field to hone their craft and at the same time displaying their skills and discipline. According to the minister, that is exactly what Pan against crime is all about because you do not have to wait for a crime to happen then you arrest the person and take them to court. He opined that the best work against crime is preventative work by finding positive things for the youths to engage in.
The parliamentary representative also used the opportunity to highlight a number of projects that has been completed and are about to commence in the constituency of East St. George including; the refurbishment of the Calliaqua Playing Field and Hard Court. He also informed the gathering of a new fish packaging facility that will begin construction in a few weeks that will employ fifty (50) persons from the constituency and will spend 20 million dollars per year to buying conch and lobster from the fisher-folks in Calliaqua.
The event was ably chaired by Mr. Johnathan Nichols, Retired Assistant Superintendent of Police and a member of the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP).