The Lydian Steel Ensemble
In 1995 marked a historic step for the Lydians and Trinidad and Tobago on the whole, when the Lydian Steel became the first steelband to accompany an entire opera - Delius' Koanga. They epitomised the new image of the panman as being literate in music and more than capable of sustaining the focus and skill required for a full-length operatic performance. This was the first group of pan players to read several bars of music on each night of performance and there has been no turning back since. Deserving of compliments are founding members of Lydian Steel; Ben Jackson, Kareem Brown, the many foundation members from Success Stars Steel Orchestra and the others who have joined since 1995.
The Lydian Steel, an ensemble which began as some twenty young gifted musicians, was put together to accompany the celebrated Lydians Singers in Frederick Delius' Koanga. Since then, Lydian Steel has played an increasingly essential role in The Lydian Singers performances, regularly accompanying the choir at their yearly concerts, the Festival Sundays in July as well as the annual Christmas concerts. Lydian Steel and The Lydian Singers have undertaken several major works together, including Donzetti's L'Elisir D'Armour and Puccini's Turandot and together they performed Brahms' Requiem, Mozart's Piano Concerto in A major, and Verdi's Requiem at many venues throughout Trinidad. The talents of individual pannists have been showcased in solo performances of works such as Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and the second movement of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto.
On their own, the Lydian Steel has led the charge in classical music from Trinidad and Tobago steelbands with a focus and fierce execution of Baroque Music. They have also performed Vivaldi's Four Seasons and along with the choir, Bach's Jesu Meine Freude and Dubois' The Seven Last Words of Christ. The group also developed an international profile over the years. In March 2001 the band performed in Coral Gables, Miami at the invitation of the Miami Bach Society. Lydian Steel's opening night concert at the Society's Second Annual Tropical Baroque Festival was a resounding success. The Executive Directors of the Society declared: "The musicians are to be lauded for their intensity and focus and the absolute beauty both aurally and visually at their performance." The Society paid the highest compliment to Lydian Steel by breaking one of its own rules of not inviting a group back the year following its performance, by immediately asking the Ensemble to return to Florida to perform on March 2nd, 2002, the opening night of the following year's festival.
In 2015 Lydians' Steel celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a full-length segment performance in the choir's annual Christmas presentation at Queen's Hall. In this performance, classic repertoire from the steel was mastered on stage along with a full presentation of steel, voices and dance of Borodin's - Prince Igor - Polovtsian Dances, under the baton of Maestro Jesus Acosta. In 2016, two new co-Captains and long-standing members, Astra Noel and Tonya Perouze were appointed to lead the Lydian Steel into its next major projects.