Casablanca Foundation Steel Orchestra
Born in the early days of the 1930’s as the Lime Groove Tamboo Bamboo Band; this fledgling Belmont percussive ensemble would evolve into the Merry Boys Steelband in 1935, and then to the biscuit drum band called Bar 20 in 1945. The Band has been rebranded several times, from Old Oak Casablanca, to ISCOTT Casablanca, to the current Casablanca Foundation Steel Orchestra. It is from there that Casablanca, as it is fondly called, would finally emerge, announcing themselves to the world by performing throughout the streets of Port of Spain for the Victory of Europe Day celebrations, after the end of World War II.
Casablanca has built up an impressive record of “milestone” achievements. The band recorded two albums in 1947, entitled Trinidad Steelband, and held their first Classical Recital at the Royal Victoria Institute (now the National Museum and Art Gallery) in 1948. They competed in numerous competitions commissioned by Pan Trinbago throughout the years, including the Best Steelband Competition (a precursor to our modern day Panorama), various on the road competitions, and music festivals. These achievements are punctuated by their extensive overseas tours.
A number of renowned pannists, arrangers and great minds have worked with or emerged from Casabalanca over the years. In 1950, Casablanca was also the first to accompany a Vocalist – Mr. Victor Severol – at a performance at the National Museum for the late Archbishop of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Pantin. They were also the first band to introduce the Chromatic Alto pan in 1952.
Music of a high calibre has always remained a hallmark of Casablanca’s career, particularly in the field of classical and contemporary modern music. Their repertoire is dynamic, and very diverse, ranging from Calypso ballads to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which was their winning performance song of the 1982 Steelband Festival.
In 1983, Casablanca began performing on the international circuit, accomplishing their goal of bringing steelpan music to the world; and in the ensuing years, until the early 90’s made more overseas appearances than any other steelband.
Casablanca Foundation Steel Orchestra continues its outstanding work in the 21st century, under the captaincy of Mr. Raymond Augustus “One Man” Mark. The Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism formally recognizes Casablanca as one of the music schools in the community of Belmont.