DES closes 2022 National Children’s Festival of the Arts with Annual Steelband Competition

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The following is a press release from the Department of Education Services:

The Department of Education Services (DES) on Saturday evening (21 May) closed the curtains on the 2022 National Children’s Festival of the Arts (NCFA) programme with the 17th annual staging of the Amin Mohammed Steelband Competition at the John Gray High School Auditorium in collaboration with the Cayman National Bank.

Audiences were treated to melodious steelpan renditions of popular soca and reggae songs and classical pieces. These were performed by eight competing soloists and 11 steel bands, one of which was trained by Music Teacher and Pannist extraordinaire, Dr. Kassandra Scott Salazar, who Cayman National Bank honoured on Saturday evening for her significant contribution to steel pan education.

A team of judges, including Professor Dr. Dawn Batson, steel pan enthusiast Mr. Ken Figuero and Mr. Emerald Mohammed, band manager and adjudicator at several local competitions, had the onerous task of selecting the top three entries from each category.

At the close of the adjudications, West End Primary School’s Mason Falcon was declared top soloist in the Primary School Category. Taygan McFarlane, from the neighbouring Layman Scott High School (LSHS), was selected as the leading junior soloist.

2021 junior champion Micah Leon dominated the Senior Soloist Competition, while 2021 senior champion Joshua McLean won the Open Soloist Category.

In the School Band Competition, first-time entrant Spot Bay Primary School placed first in the Primary School Category, and John Gray High School emerged winner in the Junior Band Category for the second consecutive year. Triple C School and Layman Scott High School tied for first place in the Senior Band Category. Pan n Riddum topped the open category after two energetic performances.

DES Customer Service Manager Mrs. Gloria Bell thanked all the partners and stakeholders for their continued support of the event. In acknowledging the participating schools, she added, “Without the students’ and teachers’ passion, interest, and commitment, we would not have a festival.”

Speaking on behalf of Cayman National Bank, Marketing & Communications Specialist Ms. Latoya Smith concurred. “We take this opportunity to thank all the parties involved for their continued commitment to making this amazing event possible. Cayman National is honoured to continue participating in this culturally-rich event as the main sponsor allowing the youth to showcase their talents.”

In his remarks, DES Director Mr. Mark Ray encouraged the young steel pan players’ continued growth as musicians and productive members of society. He stated, “I look forward to hearing about the upcoming young stars from this group of performers that will invent the next instrument or even use the steelpan in another innovative way that is yet to be discovered.”

The top three bands in each category received trophies courtesy of Cayman National Bank and DES. They also received cash prizes to complement their awards.

For more details about the Amin Mohammed Steel band Festival and other DES programmes, contact Senior Customer Service Officer Nicki Samuels by telephone at 945-1199 or by email at or Customer Service Manager Mrs. Gloria Bell by telephone at 926-9727, or 945-1199 or by email at

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