Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

 

Tribute To Women In Pan

 

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Meet Nanae “Nana” Matsumura - Japan

“Steel pan is beautiful and fun! Also powerful and intense. I never lose interest. Players can have fun playing music, dance as they enjoy their performance. The joy of seeing the audience listen to music, dance and sing… whilst the bands perform also gives me joy and energy to want to play even more. Panorama is amazing! So many people practice for just the one night; it’s really amazing and rewarding when the lights hit me on that big stage.”

In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - Nanae “Nana” Matsumura shares her unconditional love for Pan culture, music and the art form.  In addition she speaks on her worldly experiences with Pan in Trinidad, New York, Toronto and her native Japan.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about “Nana Seven.” Is Nana Seven your real name?”

Nana M. - “I’m a Japanese woman who loves the steel pan and I once quit a job to play the steel pan over the world. It was hard to take a vacation in the company where I worked. I’m staying in Toronto, Canada for 1 year. My real name is Nanae Matsumura. My nickname is Nana and it means Seven in Japanese. Seven is lucky number in Japan so I like it and use this name on Facebook.”


WST - “When and how did you first become associated with the steel pan instrument?”

Nana M. - “In my life I encountered a sad event, and that’s when I thought that I had to find something I could be occupied with to forget that incident. I knew the sound of the steel pan and I had seen it on TV but I didn’t know the name of the instrument so I started by researching it. It was in 2008 summer, I found a band and participated in the band in Japan. And since then I have fallen in love with the instrument.”


WST - “What keeps your passion for the instrument and culture going?”

Nana M. - “Steel pan is beautiful and fun! Also powerful and intense. I never lose interest. Players can have fun playing music, dance as they enjoy their performance. The joy of seeing the audience listen to music, dance and sing, whilst the bands perform... also gives me joy and energy to want to play even more. Panorama is amazing! So many people practice for just the one night; it’s really amazing and rewarding when the lights hit me on that big stage.”


WST - “Which Pan is your favorite and why?”

Nanae "Nana" Matsumura
Nanae “Nana” Matsumura

Nana M. - “Low C tenor pan. Because I enjoy the fact that I can play from a high tone to a really low tone; if I choose to do a solo piece I can play the melody as well as have a background effect with the low tone. Also it’s much easier to travel with, when compared to a double seconds or any other pan. I played my pan in Toronto and New York last year and Trinidad this year. Easy travel as its a single pan.”


WST - “Do you play any other instruments?”

Nana M. - “No I don’t nowadays. When I was a junior high school student I used to play Bass clarinet in a brass band. At that time I learned reading score.”


WST - “Desperadoes Steel Orchestra has embraced you as one of their own. Tell us about your experiences with the legendary Desperadoes?”

Nana M. - “I practiced hard because I didn’t want to disappoint them. It was the first time in 2016 at playing long music for me. I’m slow to learn but the section leader always supported me. Even if I practiced by myself and I played a wrong note he came to fix it, even though he was not that near to me. In the whole band practice, I was impressed by how long practice was and the changes they made in the arrangement.   Fresh music... I felt the music was alive. Desperadoes has truly become like family to me in Trinidad. And I do look forward to many more years playing with the band.”


WST - “You are also a member of Pan Fantasy. You performed in both the Toronto and New York Panorama with Pan Fantasy. Please describe those two experiences?”

Nana M. - “There are no categories and some bands are small in Toronto. Pan Fantasy is a big band in Toronto - even so the members were about 60 people. It was a good experience. The tenors are mostly young players so I felt their passion. Not too many people so the band is like a family. Also I was able to see the creation process of the arrangement more closely. When we finished Pan Alive (Toronto Panorama) we started to practice for New York with some new members. We needed people so some players came from other bands of Toronto. I remember that I was excited about how the sound and vibes of Pan Fantasy would change. Also the drill was strict and amazing. When we headed to the [New York] stage I felt something special. It was a nice stage but different from Trinidad. I really enjoyed being onstage.”


WST - “If you had the power to change something in Pan immediately what would that be?”

Nana M. - “I don’t want anything changed. I think that it is most wonderful when change comes naturally.”


WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to Pan?”

Nana M. - “I got 1st place in a year (2016) in Trinidad with Desperadoes and in Toronto with Pan Fantasy. I appreciate it and thankful for everyone who played together and supported us.”


Nanae "Nana" Matsumura
Nanae “Nana” Matsumura

WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steelpan movement?”

Nana M. - “I think there is much more that can be done in promoting of the steel pan besides Panorama.”


WST - “What would be your advice to the thousands of young female players all over the world who are dreaming of following in footsteps such as yours?”

Nana M. - “I just want to say to them “Please don’t miss a chance to play” and try to make the chance when you can. As I am sure you would be warmly welcomed as I was in being part of an energetic passionate amazing festival.”


Nanae "Nana" Matsumura
Nanae “Nana” Matsumura

WST - “What is the most serious challenge facing Pan in Japan?”

Nana M. - “I think we should try to have a competition in Japan. Then the Japanese pan scene will change.”


WST - “Who, and what are your musical influences?”

Nana M. - “I played different types of music when I play bass clarinet with the brass band. I like instrumental and reggae music. There are many kinds of different stories in music - that’s freedom, I am always enjoying those. It makes me feel free.”


WST - “What is it about the Panorama experience that has so captured your imagination and love?”

Nanae "Nana" Matsumura
Nanae “Nana” Matsumura

Nana M. - “Every night practice together like a big family but we play just eight minutes on the stage... The time is really happy. We can feel [the] music and each other. And the satisfaction of finally performing on the big stage and showing the world eight minutes of pure love and music that we have practiced each and every night over a month or two for...”


WST - “What is your vision for the steelpan instrument?”

Nana M. - “I’m going to keep on play for my happiness and I’m happy if I can influence someone else.”


WST - “Are there any other steelband-related matters you would like to bring forward?”

Nana M. - “I played with PanJumbie in Japan for about 3 years and 6 months. And I truly believe that steel pan should have a World Cup competition.”



Nana’s 2016 Panorama Performance with Desperadoes Steel Orchestra




Their Story, Their Voice, Their Life, Their Dreams - click for more stories

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