Peter Minshall, Calypso Rose & Roy Cape win Trinbago Carnival 2016
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Trinbago Carnival never disappoints. Attendees can always anticipate an explosion of color, creativity and pulsating music. It also never fails to create unforgettable moments or events that stand out above the rest. Read below for those that made our team’s Carnival Highlights Reel.
THE DYING SWAN by PETER MINSHALL
‘….. The purpose of Carnival is to acknowledge the empowerment of chaos; that we are not in charge…This is a moment that has been waiting for its time-Peter Minshall’
Jha Whan Thomas’ portrayal of the Carnival King costume entitled: The Dying Swan: Ras Nijinsky in drag as Pavlova was indeed a melting pot of oxymorons that seemed to embody chaos . From the marriage between the African inspired Moko Jumbie and the classical Russian ballerina; to the man dressed from head to toe in traditional prima ballerina attire; to the steel-band rendition of classical music in the midst of a soca maelstrom- everything about this costume seemed to defy what we would classify as ‘logical’. Iconic mas designer, Peter Minshall, has always managed to challenge the status quo and even shock with his creative genius; 2016’s costume display was no different. After an approximate decade long hiatus, Minshall had everyone talking- on any forum they could find- about his non- traditional King of Carnival presentation. Some deemed it too simplistic to be considered a Carnival King costume, while others proclaimed it artistic brilliance , but, almost everyone had an opinion. And dare I say -it was the first time in a long while that there has been any such prolonged public discussion about the Carnival King & Queen competition. That in itself made the artistic exhibition a success. As summarized by journalist, Sunity Maharaj, ‘This Minshall Ras Mas is, indeed, a high mas, a real mas—a Carnival maestro making new mas with old European masters.*’
CALYPSO ROSE ON THE EPIC MAS TRUCK
It almost slipped the attention of the masqueraders; that intangible bridge that was erected to connect generations through music and culture. Calypso Rose perched on top of the Epic Mas Truck in the Fantasy Carnival Band represented so much more than ‘an artiste singing on a truck.’ It was a reminder to the observant and the reflective that as we move the Carnival forward into the twenty first century, we cannot forget the foundation laid by those who paved the way. In a Carnival culture where the gap between ‘traditional’ mas and ‘bikini’ mas seems to widen every year; where soca and calypso music always seem to act like gnarling strangers living under the same roof and where the older generation continues to lament at the state of the mas while the younger generation scoffs at their prudishness- the collaboration between Calypso Rose and Epic Mas was a reminder that the different generations can meet each other half way for the sake of our culture. We need the history to enhance the innovation as we continue to perfect one of the Caribbean’s major cultural exports. And knowing the spirit of our Ambassador 5 alumnus, Calypso Rose, she was just the person to get the job done. Hats off to Machel Montano and the Epic Mas team for the vision.
TRIBUTE TO ROY CAPE
For some, Carnival is the ultimate profit machine. If you can secure a strong brand as a promoter, artiste or mas designer then the money can literally come falling into your lap. For others, Carnival is a labour of love. Countless hours of rehearsals, no sleep , thankless performances, non- existent pay and the list goes on. And when the creepy hands of time, no pension and sometimes ill health start rearing its’ gnarled fingers, many cultural artisans are left to wonder-was it really worth it? The University of the West Indies has made a conscious stand to combat this depressing cycle for local artistes. In 2015 they held a benefit concert for Dr. Leroy Calliste (Black Stalin) to defray the cost of some of his medical expenses. In 2016, Ambassador 5TM alumnus, Dr. Roy Cape, was the beneficiary of this event. The concert was a melodious treat for anyone who loves Caribbean music. The star studded cast included Blaxx, David Rudder, Kurt Allen, Ricardo Drue, Patrice Roberts, Explainer, Devon Seales, Roy Cape, Super Blue to name but a few. They all performed to a packed auditorium to show support for Pappi and pay tribute to a humble musician who has been dedicated to lifting up other artistes as he shines. Thank you for the music Uncle Roy.
We definitely mourn her loss Asami Nagakiya was a vivacious 30 year old Japanese pan-player who stole the hearts of Trinbagonians worldwide with her passion for the Carnival culture. The controversy surrounding her death almost distracted us from celebrating her life. But we simply cannot forget to celebrate the spirit of a young woman who was so open to life experiences that she travelled over eight thousand (8000+) miles to play the tenor steel pan with the PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars for almost four years (since 2012). In a statement released by the band, Asami was described as ‘“one of our most dedicated players. She would practice diligently from early in the afternoon and remained at practice until it ended in order to perfect the tune.
“Her talent and hard work made her the excellent tenor player that she was. Asami would also be remembered for her generosity with craft and jewellery-making and the Japanese treats that she always brought back for everyone when she returned to Trinidad.’* We salute you Asami for being a Caribbean cultural ambassador and we are deeply saddened by your death.