Wants to hear steel pan in Cayman

| 06/05/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusI know that steel drum band music is not as integral to Cayman’s culture as it is to some of the other Caribbean nations, and that the beautiful soca music is more popular in Cayman; but sometimes it can be fun and energising to listen to a great steel drum band perform as you experience your Caribbean vacation. Is there any place on Grand Cayman where visitors and Caymanians can regularly go to enjoy a steel drum performance?

Auntie’s answer: Pardon the pun, but your question is music to my ears. I am a big fan of steel pan (which is what it is called here in the Caribbean) and in fact there is an active community of players in Cayman. In addition, soca forms a large and important part of pan music, though the instrument is versatile enough for everything from classical to jazz.

Pan is taught to students from primary school up through the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI). There are often classes for adults as well at UCCI. Earl La Pierre, who was born in Trinidad, the birthplace of pan, has been central to the development of the instrument in Cayman over his last 30-plus years here, teaching thousands of students to play it in the process, and also performing around the island.

Certain times of year there are organised pan musical events. Every November, a pan competition, “Pan in de City” is held on the eve of Pirates Week, right on the waterfront in George Town. Bands of all ages compete in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Pans also go “on the road” during the subsequent parade held as part of the celebration.

The recently concluded Junior Batabano also featured a pan performance, and you can usually enjoy steel pan bands over Christmas.

In addition, the Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) holds the monthlong Cayman National Festival of the Arts, known as Cayfest, every February, which culminates in the Red Sky at Night event that often includes a pan performance.

The National Children’s Festival of the Arts also features a pan competition among schools in April.

Since I don’t know what time of year you will be visiting if you are a tourist, the previous information may not be all that helpful, but there are also pan events scattered throughout the year. Ahead of your trip, you could check such resources as the CNCF Facebook page for upcoming events as well as the calendar for the Camana Bay business, entertainment and residential community.

Updated with news of pan performance: There is a steel pan event coming up soon which was left out of the original column. The CayMas Carnival, set for 18-21 May, will include the “Pan Explosion” competition on Friday, 18 May, starting at 6pm on Harbour Drive on the waterfront in George Town. The event will be hosted by Mr La Pierre.


Category: Ask Auntie, Misc Questions

Comments (5)

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  1. Anon says:

    You know 3 15 the world does not revolve around you. We dont give a rats ass if you hate steel drums. Most of us love them and they make us happy. Christmas music at St. Ignatius Catholic School Band is just fantastic.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Steel pans are awful and should be illegal. The only instrument more annoying is the bagpipe.

    • Anonymous says:

      There always has to be someone throwing cold water on things. The old adage of the true measure of a ‘Scottish gentleman’ is one who can play the bagpipes, but doesn’t!

      I’d prefer to hear whatever performances are available, and anyone who doesn’t like to hear it can simply STAY AWAY! No one is forcing you to listen to something you don’t have an appreciation for.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There used to be steel pan music once a week at Camana a few years ago, near the bookstore. I’m not sure if its still the case.

  4. Richard says:

    The earliest record of a Pan concert in Grand Cayman was in the late 60s when the BWIA Sunjet steel band had a concert at the Galleon Beach Hotel.