PANCH Award 2013: Martin Grah

altWhoever thinks of Martin thinks of music, thinks of steelpan. He started his musical career at the age of 9 with the piano. Soon after he played the piano, drums and other instruments in pupil bands. Rock, funk, latin, brasil styles. And then 1980 he got to know the steelpan, at Ambulancia Steelband Winterthur. He met Ralph Richardson with whom he played in different lineups and got introduced to the professional gig scene..

Martin always joined or initiated projects such as a promotion steelband school tour in 1989, with the purpose of introducing steelpan at schools in and around Winterthur. The final concert was recorded live and a CD was produced. Due to the high interest of the press, diverse taster courses were held and out of these workshops emerged the steelband EXTEMPO which is led by Martin since.

In the 90 Martin taught and arranged for up to 7 steelbands.

What makes Martin special is his integrative acting. He keeps mediating, between professionals, professionals and amateurs in the various bands and temporary lineups. Many ad-hoc lineups were put together by Martin or he created projects with several steelbands, e.g. the unforgettable evenings at the steelband festival Männedorf. Also the PANCH Solo Limes were an idea of his. His dedication and engagement also let to the founding of the steelband association PANCH. Preparatory works and meetings had taken place already when in fall 1999 the European steelband festival in Paris was announced. An ideal project to foster cooperation between the steelbands in an association. This way, the project PANCH 2000 was a mile stone at the attempt to unify the Swiss steelband scene under one hat. Martin was leader of the musical committee in the project PANCH 2000, responsible for the coordination, motivation and cooperation of the professionals. There were many challenges to take in this position but in the end, everyone was excited about the project and the excellent result (winner of the prelims, 6th place in the final) could only have been done as a team.

With a lot of love he also cultivates and treasures good relationships with bands and scenes abroad, mainly England as well as Trinidad & Tobago. The authenticity of the roots of the pan are very important to him. Since 1988 he participated several times at the Panorama. In London he has been judge at the Nottinghill Carnival Panorama four times. In 2001 he received a price “for his contribution to steelbands in Switzerland” from BAS (British Association of Steelbands)! All these activities make Martin an excellent ambassador for steelpan in Switzerland.

Martin, we would like to thank you – also with this PANCH price – for all what you have done for PANCH and steelpan in Switzerland and we hope, you continue to act – musically, optimistically, integratively, unifying and thoughtfully.