Parranda es la vida (Parang is life).
That thematic message will be echoed, tomorrow, when primary and secondary school parang bands from around the islands compete for those respective age group titles, at St Mary’s College, Port of Spain.
Eleven primary school and 12 secondary school bands have signed up for the clash that will require them to deliver traditional parang songs before an adjudication panel and live audience. They will all be looking to dethrone defending champs St Gabriel’s Girls’ RC Primary School, San Fernando, and the combined Queen’s Royal College (QRC) Bishop Anstey Girls’ High School outfit.
National Parang Association of Trinidad and Tobago (NPATT) youth officer Joseph Bertrand says it’s a much-anticipated return to competition bands have been plotting for three years.
“The children are super excited about the competition and being back after having two years of no competition. Last year, we had a junior festival online and they were able to gather in groups of five to record performances and we put together. But this year it will be full band performances,” Bertrand told the Express via phone yesterday.
Bertrand said despite the enthusiasm the three-year pandemic-forced lay off has adversely affected the parang programmes at some schools. A few regulars were unable to enter the competition this year as they are in the process of rebuilding their programmes, he explained.
“Schools accustomed competing say they can’t compete because they missed two years and students would have moved on so they are in a rebuilding phase. It’s a challenge, but we are rebranding and rebuilding the competition,” he added.
Preserving the art form
The preservation of the parang art form remains paramount to the mandate of the competition, Bertrand said.
“One of the mandates of the (NPATT) association is the preservation of the art form. The way to start preserving an art form is to engage the youth. The idea behind engaging the youth in parang is the bedrock of this competition. So, we not just competing for competing sake, the competition is really a by-product of the youth engagement,” Bertrand explained.
Primary school bands will be given eight minutes on stage to perform either an anunciación or nacimiento on the birth of Christ. Secondary school bands, meanwhile, in an addition to the anunciación and nacimiento will be asked to perform an additional traditional parang song of their choice during their alloted 15 minutes on stage, he said.
Judges will be paying close attention to lyrics, diction, lead rendition, chorus rendition, musicality and will award special prizes to the best box base and best cuatro, as well as, best lead singer male and female, he added.
Bertrand, 32, is a graduate of NPATT’s initiative to bring parang music into the classroom. He says he has seen first-hand the real-world benefits of the programme while attending Arima Boys’ RC primary school and later Trinity College East.
“I personally been through the junior parang system, and the competition and it has helped in building identity, taking pride in cultural art form and carving out a space in terms of self-confidence.
“I engage directly with teachers and mentors of the various competing schools. I want to make it clear they are the real heroes in this thing. They engage with the youth day in, day out to get them prepared. We see the fruit of their labour on stage, but we must remember they are the foot soldiers and real heroes,” Bertrand concluded.
NPATT PARANG FESTIVAL 2022 SCHEDULE
NOV 19: ¡Parranda Es La Vida! Junior Parang Festival @St. Mary’s College, Port of Spain — 9 a.m.
NOV 25: Divas of Parang @Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain. — 7 p.m.
NOV 26: ¡Parranda Para Siempre! @BP Renegades Pan Theatre, Port of Spain — 8 p.m.
DEC 10: ¡Parranda Para Siempre! Grand Finale @Arima Velodrome — 8 p.m.
DEC 16: El Aroma de Parang – Free event on the streets of Arima — 6 p.m.
JAN 7: Holy Mass & Les Rois @St. Anthony’s RC Church, Point Fortin — 6 p.m.