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Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Steel Drum Foundation’s annual Competition saw hundreds of learners converging on the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre to pit their talents in what has now become a very hotly-contested competition.

Held under the auspices of the National Creative Arts Youth Festival, it features bands from primary and high schools and this year again proved the steady growth and musicality of the bands and the incredible team spirit that accompanies this competition.

“I have been a judge since the competition’s inception,” explains actress/director Caroline Smart, who is editor of artSMart and also a dance and theatre judge. “Every year, I seem to say the same thing to the bands - it’s almost become a mantra – `Wow, how you’ve all improved’! And indeed they have.

“The biggest challenge for steel drum performers is that they are judged on four levels – creativity, good sound, enthusiasm and movement,” she continues. “Like orchestral players, they have to keep their eye on the conductor but, unlike orchestral players, they have to remember the foot and hand movements, keep in time and – sometimes – sing. This develops a multi-layered presentation and this is what gives steel band music the edge over other types of bands – it’s a performance style full of energy and rhythm.”

Fellow judge, Smangele Mpanza, was a steel drum player herself in the early days of the Steel Drum Foundation and she agreed that the standard of the music had grown considerably since her involvement.

In the Primary School Section, the Drum for Joy Trophy for first prize went to Durban Primary School and, in the High School section, the Elizabeth Sneddon Trophy for first prize went to Inanda Seminary.

The Troubadour Productions trophies for second place in the Primary section went to Kokstad Junior Grade 6 and in the High School Section to St Nicholas. In third position in the Primary School section was Warner Beach Preparatory.

The Steel Drum Foundation Trophy for the Most Outstanding Single Performance by a Band went to newcomers to the festival, Hilda Makhanya Group B with Rock around the Clock. The artSMart Rising Star Trophy for an individual performer showing a professional yet highly inter-active sense of performance went to Sesuthu Mqcomboti from St Patricks.

The Dobri Paliev Trophy for best High School Individual Piece went to Boys Hope for Johnny B Goode while the Steel Drum Foundation Trophy for the Most Improved Junior School band was awarded to St Nicholas Grade 7.

Gordon Road once again won the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra Spirit Trophy.