KEN ‘PROFESSOR’ PHILMORE – The First Professor of Pan
Ken’s love of the national instrument-the steelpan, his passion, heart and musical genius ultimately was the basis for his vision of creating a legacy of excellence. His drive to show the versatility of the musical range of the pan instrument, to teach and develop the youth as well as work with fellow musicians all over the world was relentless. His goal was to ensure that the coming generations continue to take Trinidad & Tobago’s national instrument, the steelpan, to the world.
Ken’s romance with the steelpan began when at the age 9 he received the gift of a tenor pan. After picking the notes and teaching himself to play over years of persistence, Steve Achaiba, the former captain of Hatters, asked his father to allow him to come to the panyard. Many seniors at the panyard often wondered who was the boy with the big round glasses, they said he looked like a professor and began calling him “Professor”.
Philmore was a leader, pioneer and forerunner as a musician. In as much as he brought the music of our national instrument to the Queen’s Park Savannah, he brought it to, Nigeria, Japan, Canada, the Caribbean, USA ( Broadway, BET and the Apollo Theatre) to name a few well known stages.
Several steelbands have been the beneficiaries of his musical genius. Philmore arranged for several steelbands from the east, west, north, south and even Tobago. They include- Fonclaire, Invaders, Casablanca, Power Stars, Potential, Sangre Grande Cordettes, Hatters, Pamberri, Courts Laventille Sound Specialists, Gay Hoytonians, Solo Harmonities, Metro Stars, T&TEC New East Side Dimension, Invaders, Skiffle Bunch and Our Boys. In New York, Ken arranged for BWIA Sonatas and Harmony Music Makers
His crowning glory in respect to Panorama competitions came in 1990 when he took the world by storm with “Pan by Storm”. The arrangement of “Pan by Storm” was magical and inspirational. That year Philmore and his band lost Panorama by .5 of a point. To this day many still lament that decision.
His passion for his art was an expression of what was in his soul. It shone in every movement, you heard it in every note. Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore had a love affair with the steelpan that made him the consummate player and servant leader. Not only did he bring our music to the world. He showed the world that any genre of music could be played on our national instrument. He was a true Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, The first Professor of Pan.
“Because the greatest Love of all is happening to me, I found the greatest Love of all inside of me” – Within himself, Ken “Professor” Philmore fulfilled his love for God, his steelpan, his family, his country and ultimately, his purpose.
honoring the icons
Ken 'Professor' Philmore