‘PanJazz’ to become tourism attraction
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Reon Miller, founder and creative director of PanJazz Concerts
Reon Miller, founder and creative director of PanJazz Concerts

–scholarship fund to be launched
–concert set for Oct. 3

GUYANA’S premier and only music concert, which fuses the traditional sounds of jazz with the Caribbean flavourful rhythm of vibrant steel-pan to craft an exuberant experience, PanJazz, is taking aim to one day become a reason why tourists flock to the South American nation.

The vision of metamorphizing this local music concert into one of Guyana’s most enthralling music festivals is being executed by the founder and creative director of PanJazz Concerts, 24-year-old Reon Miller, who shared a synopsis of the blueprint and his journey thus far, during an interview with the Sunday Chronicle.

In anticipation of attending the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS), Miller started the PanJazz Concerts in 2018 while pursuing his Bachelor of Law (LLB) at the University of Guyana with the intention of paying his school fees; accordingly, he is desirous of launching the PanJazz Scholarship Fund to help others in need.

He started playing pan with the band at the First Assembly of God Church just a few weeks before he commenced his secondary education studies at The Bishops’ High School in 2009. His love for ‘pan’ only grew stronger after he entered school, which also enabled him to hone his skills.

He eventually joined the Park Side Steel Orchestra in 2012 to further develop his skills, and one year later, he copped first place in the junior solo steel pan category at the Panorama Steel Band competition and he has been playing ‘pan’ ever since.

Reon Miller and friends performing at PanJazz 2019, held at the Umana Yana, Georgetown

The first PanJazz music concert was held at Herdmanston Lodge, Georgetown and featured talented steel-pan and jazz musicians, as well as an art exhibition. There were over 100 people in attendance, including Guyana’s well-known musician, Eddy Grant.

One year later, in 2019, the event grew much larger with over 275 people attending at the Umana Yana, Georgetown. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was not held in 2020, however, all is set to resuscitate the enticing PanJazz music concert in 2021.

This year, the radiant sounds of steel-pan topped with instruments such as saxophone, piano and trumpet is expected to bring alive the Courtyard of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara on Sunday, October 3 at 18:00 hours.

Miller promises an “all encompassing” event, as the sounds of steel-pan is capable of adapting to any melody, and can replicate any genre or song. He was hesitant to name a few tracks fans can expect, but the Sunday Chronicle observed him practicing a popular chutney titled ‘Headshot’ by Ravi B.

The concert is set to feature Miller himself, Sean Bhola, Roy Stewart (saxophonist), veteran steel-pannist Micheal Smith Snr, Kunjaz Steel Ensemble, Tennecia Defreitas, Hanani Ben Lewi, Detroy Dey and many others.

The concert, which started out as a venture to fund Miller’s studies, is now being poised to become one of Guyana’s tourism attractions, as it is his intention to transform the music concert into a music festival of high-quality entertainment and one which can showcase the talents of Guyana.

“The intention is for this event to grow into a festival which primarily showcases steel-pan and jazz music in the country and for this event to be added to the tourism calendar. I can envisage many persons coming to Guyana to attend the Guyana PanJazz Festival as no such annual event exists anywhere else in the Caribbean,” he said.

Miller envisages a three-day music weekend music festival with two nights of concerts featuring local and international jazz musicians, and one night for an international PanJazz Steel-pan competition. He is optimistic that the festival can also be added as a Guyana Carnival event.

While the young aspiring attorney-at-law hopes to transform the event into something larger than what it started as, he did not forget the motive behind it.

“This concert was started to pay my law school tuition fees and from next year I plan to announce the PanJazz Law Scholarship Fund which will see one student from the LLB programme at the University of Guyana benefitting from a grant towards their Hugh Wooding Law School Tuition from the proceeds of the concert,” he said.

This year’s all-inclusive wine and cheese event is open only to the vaccinated population and is being sponsored by Barefoot Wines, Bacardi, the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport, Ministry of Tourism, Steel Pro Guyana, Canje Media, Sach Soaps, Au Moyeu and Lumiere Candles.

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