Youth Steel Orchestras
In the early 1970s the number of schools introducing steelpans into their curriculum grew rapidly throughout the United Kingdom. This led to some Local Authorities as well as individuals extending steelpan tuition by starting youth steel orchestras.
Two of the early youth steel orchestras were Lambeth Youth Community Steel Orchestra and Manchester Youth Steel Orchestra. Both orchestras had a mix of boys and girls of school age and they also gave school leavers the opportunity to continue playing as there was no other outlet unless they joined a semi-professional steelband.
Lambeth Community Youth Steel Orchestra (LCYS)
The members of the LYCS were school pupils from the London Boroughs of Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth. The steelband was originally called Lambeth Youth Steel Band. In 1994, the name of the band was changed to Lambeth Youth Steel Orchestra.
A trademark of the steelband was its red London bus, a 1973 Daimler, registration number MLK 620L. It was purchased in 1991 to transport both the pupils and the instruments to venues throughout the United Kingdom.
The orchestra played at several carnivals and festivals and gained much success in the national Panorama completion by winning the On the Road competition in 1994 and 1995. They also came third in the national Panorama competition in the same period.
In 2000, the red bus was sold.
LCYS disbanded in 2001. Their music is still featured in many music outlets and many of the former band members are teachers or successful steelpan musicians in their own right.
Manchester Youth Steel Orchestra (MYSO)
The members of the MYSO were school pupils who received steelpan tuition from Manchester’s Music Service, formerly Manchester Education Department.The orchestra was supported by the Steelband Association of Great Britain (northwest section) and sponsored by Norwest Pioneers.
In the early 1980s the orchestra travelled to both East and West Berlin along with the High Wycombe School Choir. Their music was well received and led to an unexpected invitation to appear on German national television.
The steelband ceased to operate in the late 1980s. Many of its former band members went on to form Mancunian Steelband.
These groups can now travel frequently across the United Kingdom, to Europe and even Trinidad to display their achievements as steelpan players and as ambassadors of the United Kingdom.