Geraldine Connor

Dr Geraldine "Gerry" Roxanne Connor was born 22 March 1952 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Her father Edric Connor was responsible for bringing the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra to the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Geraldine's education began in Trinidad, and continued in England where she attended the Camden School for Girls and also the Royal College of Music where she graduated in 1974. On her return to Trinidad, she taught music at Queen's Royal College and the University of the West Indies.

In 1977 she became the first woman to play bass in the Invaders Steel Orchestra.

In 1983, she returned to England and accepted the position as arranger for the Ebony Steelband, and led the band to win their first Panorama competition.

In 1984, she was invited by the Invaders (Trinidad) to arrange for them, and in doing so was acknowledged as becoming the first woman to arrange for Panorama, Trinidad. She returned to England in the same year and continued to work with Ebony as their classical musical director enjoying much success at home and abroad.

In 1990, she moved to Yorkshire to take up the post of senior lecturer in multicultural music at the University of Leeds. It was Arthur France who invited Geraldine to bring her wealth of experience to help raise the profile of Caribbean Arts and Culture in Leeds. Her role began by working alongside Dudley Nesbitt (retired 2012) in tutoring the New World Steel Band (now Orchestra).

In 1999 Geraldine composed and directed the Carnival Messiah for the West Yorkshire Playhouse. A 25 player steelband was featured playing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

In 2005, she accepted an award from the British Association of Steel Bands in recognition of her family's contribution to the promotion of steelband music, Caribbean art, culture and heritage throughout the United Kingdom.

In 2006, she achieved a doctorate from Leeds University for her academic focus on the carnival of Trinidad.

In 2009, she was presented with Trinidad and Tobago's second highest national honour, the Chaconia medal (gold).

In 2011 with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and key partnerships with ArtForms Education Leeds and the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard, Geraldine, Arthur France and Dr Carl Hylton held a Steelpan Symposium in Leeds.

Sadly, Geraldine passed away 21 October 2011.

In 2012, the Geraldine Connor Foundation was founded to honour her memory and ensure her work will be continued.

In 2013, the Foundation started its work with the Geraldine Connor Summer School, a training programme inspired by Geraldine’s unique teaching methods.