Competitions, Concerts and Festivals

Royce Primary School (closed 31 August 1999) was home to one of the first schools in the Manchester area to receive steelpan tuition via the Manchester Education Committee.

The steelband was formed in 1975 and pupils were taught by the late Arthur Culpeper.

Since there was much enthusiasm for steelpans, the pupils rehearsed every week before and after school hours and also at lunch-times.

At that time the steelband had a busy schedule accompanying a school choir at the Chorlton Music Festival and performing at a Rotary Club lunch at the Queens Hotel. The steelband also took part in the Lords Mayors Parade, playing non-stop to cheering and clapping crowds and played at both the Hulme and Manchester carnivals during the school holidays.

In 1980, Royce along with four other primary schools entered a music competition run by the BBC. Royce Steelband carried off the BBC Radio Manchester Trophy with a top score of 190 points. Their performance included the following pieces: Plaisir d’amour, Moonlight Sonata, Air on the G String and the theme from the Commonwealth Games.

Some of the pupils from the steelband went on to join the Manchester Youth Steel Orchestra, before becoming teachers or steelpan tutors.

In the late 1970s many of the steelpan teachers began to organise schools' Steelpan Festival's as a way to bring together the steelbands they taught under one roof. The format of the festivals varied but usually included individual school performances followed by a grand performance by all of the participating steelbands. Some festivals included either a competition element or a guest appearance from a popular youth steelband. Steelpan teachers enjoyed the traditional rivalry that developed by the children after hearing their steelbands perform and also the friendships that formed as a result. Some teachers would also invite friends that also play steelpans to either perform or give a talk about how playing steelpans influenced their lives and what it is like to be a professional musician. 

The success of the steelpan festivals led to many schools including steelpan performances in their assemblies, concerts and summer fairs. These events gave their pupils further opportunities to experience performing in group and inspired many to pursue a career in music.

The growth of pan in schools over time has given rise to an increase in these types of local and regional events or competitions. Although any such event is regarded as a necessity, our focus is mainly on the annual steelpan competition - UK Panorama - as it provides a platform for all aspiring pannists. Panorama also brings together the best of our UK pannists where they can be judged by their peers and perform in true Trinidadian style.