CARIBBEAT: Victor Provost makes a way for steelpan on stage and in the classroom – New York Daily News

At the age 11, U.S. Virgin Islands-born Victor Provost was taking piano lessons in a downstairs room at the St. John School of the Arts when he drawn to the melodious sounds of youngsters playing steelpan in an upstairs room — and his life was forever changed.
“Part of it was the sound for sure; it was the energy of the music,” said Provost, reflecting on his initial personal connection with steelpan. “I’ll never forget, man, recalling that his pan playing classmates “were playing the theme to the movie ‘Chariots of Fire.’ Now a veteran pannist, Provost — and his jazzy presentations on the Trinidad-created instrument — has taken him from his home on the USVI’s St. John island to performance halls in cities around the world.
Provost recently performed at Flushing Town Hall in Queens with a band featuring his “longtime collaborator” Alex Brown on piano.
Last month, USVI-born pannist Victor Provost (right) performed with an ensemble at Flushing Town Hall in Queens. (Eva Carrillo for Flushing Town Hall)
And he’s due back in New York for performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club in Manhattan, Friday through Sunday, with award-winning USVI drummer and composer Dion Parson as part of his 21st Century Band.
Provost’s 2017 “Bright Eyes” album is soon to be followed by a new project, due in Spring 2023 — “all original music that’s heavily influenced by the music of South America and the French Caribbean.”
Pannist Victor Provost (left) will be following his 2017 “Bright Eyes” album with a 2023 project of original music featuring sounds of the French Caribbean and South America. (Christopher Bruker/Courtesy of Victor Provost)
Though now an adjunct professor of music at George Mason University, Provost noted that the instrument was initially associated with criminals, violence and “people that were kind of outside of the diameter of respectable Trinidadian society.”
Provost admitted that he sometimes had to “muscle” his way into institutions and music programs that were unfamiliar with steelpan and its respectable role as a musical instrument.
Victor Provost (center) shares his knowledge and respect for the steelpan in Virginia as an adjunct professor at George Mason University’s Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music. (Courtesy of George Mason University)
Today, “GMU is one of three universities in North America where students can choose steelpan as a primary instrument of study,” said he said proudly.
For more on Provost, visit victorprovost.com.
National Caribbean American Heritage Month in June offers a host of events and activities to celebrate, discover, and enjoy the culture of the region where many New Yorkers have roots. Among the happenings:
* First time author Elizabeth “Lady” Montano — who wrote “King of Soca” about her soca superstar son Machel Montano — kicked off the Tropicalfete’s Caribbean authors series last Wednesday.
Author Elizabeth Montano, and her “King of Soca” book about her superstar son Machel Montano, kicked off the June celebration of national Caribbean American Heritage Month for Tropicalfete organization. (Troipicalfete Inc.)
The series continues Sunday at 6:30 p.m. with Shermaine Bique–Charles of Dominica and her romance novel, “Jasmine.” Visit tropicalfete.com for information on the organization’s many activities.
* The 69th Precinct Community Council, state Assemblywoman Jamie Williams, and state Senator Roxanne Persaud will hold a “Caribbean Heritage Month” event on Saturday at 1222 E. 96th St. in Brooklyn, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call William’s office at (718) 252-2124.
* The rhythm sections, “iron men,” and percussionists that support steelpan and calypso are the focus of a free workshop of speakers and performances presented at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, next Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., by Prospect Park Alliance, JOUVAYFEST Collective, and the BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project. Call (718) 965-8951 and visit Prospect Park Alliance Caribbean American Heritage Month events.
An extension of the city’s Vaccine Equity Partner Engagement Project will allow the Grand Concourse Seventh-Day Adventist Church to continue sharing COVID prevention information and equipment in the Bronx. (Grand Concourse Seventh-Day Adventist Church)
The Grand Concourse Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the Bronx will be sharing COVID-19 information and distributing hand sanitizers, face masks and test kits for six more months, extending the community-focused Vaccine Equity Partner Engagement Project at the church into August.
Located at 1275 Grand Concourse, the church — whose members come from the Highbridge and Concourse sections of the borough and beyond — was an original community partner in the project, started in August 2021 by city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in conjunction with the Fund for Public Health in New York.
For information, call (718) 681-2232, send email to info@grandconcourse.org, or visit grandconcourseny.adventistchurch.org/Partners.
Caribbeat now appears every other week. To submit items for Caribbeat, send email to caribbeatnewyork@gmail.com.
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News

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