At HYSO’s inception in 2004, Jamila Abrams, then 6, was the youngest member of the newly formed orchestra. She began on the tenor pan, but has since learned to play all the pans in the orchestra. Ten years and many performances later, Jamila is now an instructor with the junior group. A solid grade 11 student at Westdale Secondary School, Jamila is also an avid soccer player and coach. She is interested in studying kinesiology or human rights in the future. “HYSO has given me a place to belong. Thanks to Karen and Cathy, I’ve had the most amazing opportunity to love and care for others, to make friendships and memories, but most of all to be a part of a really big family. HYSO is like another home for me and I don’t plan on leaving the nest any time soon!”
Also an original member of the orchestra, Joseph Abrams has been HYSO’s main drummer for the past seven years. He loves music, is an avid Paul McCartney fan, and enjoys working out at the gym. Joseph’s best HYSO memory is the 2009 trip to Trinidad. Joseph has just graduated from Mohawk College and is interested in pursuing a career in recreation. Joseph is a recipient of the ACCPI youth scholarship award for academic excellence and community service.
Lindiwe Abrams joined HYSO in 2011 when she was seven years old and played the bongos in the rhythm section for the senior group. Now ten, Lindi is learning the double guitar. Singing, however, is Lindi’s first love. She has been taking voice lessons for two years and has sung at various HYSO events. Lindi’s all-time hero is her compatriot, Nelson Mandela. She takes inspiration from his quote, “History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”
Hello my name is Derron Alleyne. I am 10 years old and I attend Central Public School. I am presently in grade 4. My favorite subjects are math, French, and journal writing. I really enjoy playing on my Nintendo DSI XL and Gateway tablet. My favorite movies are The Nut Job and Frozen. My favorite TV show is Spongebob. I love running and playing soccer and every year for the past six years, I’ve played with the Hughson Street Baptist Church. My favorite color is red and I enjoy playing board games such as Monopoly, Scrabble and Checkers. I also enjoy traveling and in my spare time I love performing magic tricks. I love listening to music and my most favorite kind of music is Soca. I enjoy using Virtual DJ to help me get better at DJin’, so I could be as good as my dad someday. My favorite instruments are the piano and the steel pan. I started playing steel pan with HYSO at the age of 5 and ever since, I’ve played double guitar. I joined HYSO so I can learn more about my culture. I am very passionate about the steel pan and I look forward each year to learning new music and performing at different events.
My name is Emeline Auguste. I’ve been in HYS0 for more than 3 years now. HYSO means so much to me because it’s a part of my family. I was able to grow my music with HYSO and learn so many things about teamwork and friendship. The first time I saw HYSO was at a performance in July 2009. After that performance, I was dying to know how to play the music. Now, here I am. I have enjoyed my time with HYSO and know that I always will. I couldn’t wish for a better music program.
Neuman Bruins started playing pan when he was 8 years old back in 2005. He is now 17 years old, currently in grade 11 at Westdale and is looking to study computer engineering at Mohawk College. When he is playing the double tenor, he is enjoying himself, but when he is not, he can be found on his computer. Neuman also plays the drum kit, timpani, snare, xylophone, and other various percussive instruments. He is involved in the Sr. Band, Sr. Jazz, Orchestra, and helps out when another band needs a part covered (Including the Hamilton Youth Philharmonic Orchestra). He volunteers at the Dundas Little Theatre and has been involved with the Oakville Players as a Sound and Light Operator and Set Builder.
Shanice is 10 years old and is in her third year with HYSO. Shanice
currently plays the triple guitar, but started off playing the tenor
pan. We were looking to enroll Shanice in group where she could
learn an instrument, know part of her heritage (coming from a
Trinidadian background), and be with other kids of the same ethnic
background. What we soon learned is that HYSO is not just a
“group” but a “family” for the kids. She loves the HYSO group and
she loves attending the concerts. She has made some very good
relationships within the group. Shanice is also an avid reader. She
loves to cook as well as do gymnastics and swim.
My name is Kambreia Cumberbatch and I am 19 years old. I joined HYSO at the age of nine when I was in the fourth grade. I have been playing the steel pan for nine years and in that time I learned to play all the instruments. The main pan I play is the double second. When I am not playing pan, I teach music to the senior and junior groups of HYSO. The performances are my favourite part of HYSO because I enjoy putting smiles on other people’s faces. I joined this group because I had an interest in music and I liked the positive group interaction. I am currently entering my second year at Mohawk College, studying Protection, Security and Investigations. I am also a member of the Mohawk Women’s Basketball team. I am a recipient of the ACCPI youth scholarship award for academic excellence and outstanding community service and the John C. Holland award.
My name is Kemarr Cumberbatch and I am 21 years old. I joined HYSO at the age of 19 and I have been a part of the band for two years. During my first year, I was a part of the rhythm section and during my second year I began to play the double second. I am entering my third year at Mohawk College studying Protections, Security and Investigation. A few of my interests are basketball, music & shoes. My favourite thing about HYSO is performing, being able to travel, and introducing people to pan. I also like being able to display my talent on the steel pan. Playing an instrument people love to hear is a great feeling, especially when you see the reactions and receive the compliments. I am a recipient of the John C. Holland Award.
Jayde Daniel is a 17 year-old soon-to-be graduate of Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School. Jayde’s history with HYSO dates back all the way to the very beginning. Jayde started off playing the tenor and after a few changes finally fell in love with the four bass. She soon became known as “di woman on di bass”. Jayde plays pan because she loves the music, she loves how music changes lives and builds relationships, and she loves the tight-knit group better known as ‘HYSO’. Jayde has no intentions of quitting the beloved pan any time soon despite her future journey to the University of Laurier, where she plans to enter the Law and Society program and eventually become a criminal defense lawyer. Jayde would like to thank HYSO for all the amazing memories and opportunities. “Without HYSO I’m not sure if I would be the same person I am today. I love me, I guess I have HYSO to thank for that. Thank you for helping me keep my Trinidadian culture alive! One love, to the one and only People’s Choice, aka HYSO!”
I am Kristian-Anson Jamal Ferreira, a third-year McMaster University student doing an honours degree in sociology with a minor in psychology. My ultimate pursuit through academia is to go into a career of individual therapy in either social work or sports psychology. I am twenty years of age and I have been playing with the Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra for half of my life. The reason I’ve dedicated such a large amount of time to the band is because over time the people that I’ve interacted with have stopped being merely friends and have become family. I am a first generation Canadian and most of my extended family remains in the great country of Trinidad and Tobago. As a result, I don’t get a chance to be with my family and cousins as much as I would like but my adopted my HYSO peers help to fill that void. Pan practice no longer feels as an external activity which I have to think about doing; instead it has become an important ritual that is just another part of the life and times of one Kristian Ferreira. I am a recipient of the ACCPI youth scholarship award for academic excellence and outstanding community service and the John C. Holland award.
Jasmine is 18 years old and a grade 12 student at Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School. Jasmine began playing the steel pan at the age of 8 and she has been playing for nine years. Jasmine plays the double tenor pan and the moment she heard the sound of the steel pan she fell in love with it. Being a part of HYSO has enabled Jasmine to learn more about her culture (her mother being Grenadian and her father Dominican) and to also build an unbreakable bond with individuals she now calls her brothers, sisters, and cousins - her family. Besides being an active member of HYSO, Jasmine is also an active member of her school and her community. She is a member of the yearbook club, the dance team, the Step Squad, the cheerleading team, the athletic council, the graduation committee, and the indoor and outdoor track teams. Jasmine enjoys reading and loves to dance. This fall Jasmine will be attending York University to pursue a degree in psychology. “Without HYSO I would not be who I am today. I would like to thank not only HYSO but also Cathy and Karen for supporting, nurturing, mentoring, and introducing me to a world which I can - and will - take by storm.”
Dejehan “Luckystickz” Hamilton is a Canadian drummer and steel pannist of Trinidadian and Jamaican heritage, born in Hamilton, Ontario. Dejehan has been passionately playing the steel pan for nine years since discovering his love for ‘pan’ through the Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra. Dejehan teaches students on the steel pan and is the drill instructor for HYSO. When Dejehan is not playing music, he is a motivational speaker who has a passion for investing positivity and hope in other youth. Dejehan Hamilton is currently enrolled at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He has been a pioneer for Canadian steel pan artistry by being the first Canadian on scholarship to attend Berklee for steelpan. Dejehan is furthering his studies on the steel pan while majoring in music business and management. Dejehan is a recipient of the ACCPI youth scholarship award for academic excellence and outstanding community service and the John C. Holland award.
Sydney Herault- Ayres
My name is Sydney Herault-Ayres and I have been a member of HYSO for 9 years, having started at the age of 9. I am currently a grade 12 student with plans to attend McMaster University in the fall. HYSO is an organization that has changed my life and shaped me into the person I am today. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me through HYSO. Some of my greatest friendships and memories have been formed through my involvement in HYSO. I love playing pan, it is just as much a part of me, as much as the colour of my skin.
My name is Bianca. I’m 20 years old and I’ve been with HYSO for four years as a six bass player. HYSO has been a big part of my life. I always look forward to performing and practicing because I get to spend time with my HYSO family. Playing pan always puts me in a good mood, even on a bad day. I am currently a motivational speaker with Talking About Mental Illness (TAMI). I am the founder of End All Silence Everywhere (EASE) which is an anti-bullying and anti-abuse group and I am also the coordinator of a self-injury and suicide support group for students at Mohawk College. I am a graduate of the Mohawk College music program and am currently finishing my second year at Mohawk in the general arts and science program. In my free time I enjoy doing anything that involves art including singing and playing instruments, photography and film, drawing and painting, writing poetry, and making crafts such as bracelets.
My name is Katarina. I am 15 years old, and I have been with HYSO for 4 years. When I joined HYSO, I started playing the double guitar. After a couple of months, I was switched to the double second. In January of my second year, I started playing the cello (the triple guitar) in the advanced/senior group. I enjoy playing the pan because it gives off good vibes and it sounds beautiful. My biggest reward is the reaction of the audience when we play at performances. I am in grade 10 and I am a Specialist High Skills Major student. I’ve competed in the Ontario Technological Skills Competition since grade 9 in the area of graphic design and was the youngest competitor. In my free time I like to read a wide variety of books, listen to music, and going for walks in nature.
My name is Tarisha Montaque and in September I started grade six at St Peter and Paul Elementary School, and for the very first time began to learn the steel pan with HYSO. At first I started off playing the double guitar but after the Christmas show, I changed to the double tenor. I prefer the double tenor because I like the tune of the pan when we play together. The reason I love pan is because we get to travel places and we get to see the advanced group play as well.
My name is Tyler Devon Montaque. I am 14 years old and am currently in grade nine at Cathedral High School. I play the tenor pan with HYSO and began playing in September. I enjoy playing the pan because it is fun and it has a nice melody. What I like most about being a part of HYSO is going on road trips to perform because we all bond together as a group and have some nice food. I have enjoyed my HYSO experience so far and hope to continue to learn new things and make new memories.
Rebecca is 19 years old and is a 2nd year nursing student in the Mohawk/McMaster program. Rebecca has always had a passion for music and began playing the steel pan at the age of 11. Rebecca plays the tenor pan in HYSO but is always willing to learn to play different pans. She loves being a part of HYSO because the orchestra has given her the opportunity to learn more about her Trinidadian heritage and meet the wonderful people she calls her ‘family’. After university, Rebecca plans to work at Sick Kids as a pediatric nurse. She loves kids and has always wanted to help children in need. In the spare time (that she doesn’t really have), she works at her part-time job, hangs out with her friends, keeps up with her homework and, of course, plays pan. Rebecca is a recipient of the ACCPI youth scholarship award for academic excellence and outstanding community service.
James is a grade 7 student at Dr. Edgar Davy Elementary School. He has been playing with HYSO for 6 years. He plays the four bass. In his spare time, James enjoys playing hockey and playing the drums. He is on his school basketball and cross country teams.
Chanel is 12 years old and a grade 7 student at Holy name of Jesus elementary school. Chanel took interest in steel pan playing after her mother asked her if she wanted to join HYSO. Her parents being Trinidadian, she thought it would be something nice to do. Chanel plays the four bass and she began playing last September. In her spare time Chanel loves to play basketball and basketball. Her favourite colour is purple.
Kyle Aaron Ransome
My name is Kyle Aaron Ransome and I am seven years old. My family has four members: my dad, my sister, my mother, and me. I live in Hamilton, Ontario. The name of my school is St. Lawrence Elementary. My hobbies are playing the steel pan, riding my bike, swimming, dancing, and learning and playing games on the computer. I play the tenor pan in HYSO and I have been playing for one year. When I attend steel pan lessons I like learning to play new songs with my classmates. I look forward to performing with my group at events and talking to the senior members. When I arrive early, I get to have dance competitions with them. When I am not attending steel pan lessons, I like to watch television, visit my relatives, go to the movies, go carting, and travel to Trinidad and Tobago.
Melissa Ransome is six years old and is an elementary school student enrolled in a French immersion class at A.M Cunningham School. Melissa started playing the piano at four years old, but as she got older she showed an interest in playing the steel pan along with her brother Myles. Melissa plays the tenor pan in HYSO and has been playing for a year. Besides playing the steel pan, she enjoys swimming and she is also in the school choir.
My name is Myles Ransome. I am fifteen years old and I am a grade nine student at Cathedral High School. I have been a part of HYSO for a few years now and I play the double tenor. Being a part of HYSO is a lot of fun and I enjoy every moment of it. Besides playing the pan, I like to play football and basketball. I would like to thank all the members of HYSO for teaching me how to play the steel pan!
My name is Jalen Salazar. I am thirteen years old and I am a grade seven student at Ryerson Elementary School. I like playing soccer in my spare time. I have been with HYSO for three years now and every single one of those years have been amazing. Thanks to everyone in the group! HYSO is a loving and caring group of people that welcomes everyone. For me, HYSO has been a great experience and I can’t wait to experience more.
Jelissa Elsa Salazar
My name is Jelissa Salazar, I am eight years old and I am in the third grade at Earl Kitchener School. I like to play with my sister. I play the Tenor pan in HYSO. What I like most about HYSO is that we always go on trips to perform for people. Also, I like how the music and pan sounds when I hit it. This is my first year with HYSO and I can’t wait for more!
Kerron Christian Salazar
My name is Kerron Salazar. I am fourteen years old and I am in the eighth grade at Ryerson Middle School. I play the six bass pan in HYSO and I have been playing for eight months. Besides playing the steel pan, I like to play football, basketball, cricket, rugby, volleyball, dodge ball, and track & field. Some of my hobbies are drawing, video games, watching movies, and descriptive writing. I joined HYSO because I can learn more about music and my culture. I also joined HYSO because it is a new activity in my life and I intend to stay with this group to learn more and to experience more interactions with the members of HYSO. Throughout the eight months that I have been playing, I’ve enjoyed every moment.
Asia followed her two older sisters into the HYSO family tradition and performed in her first Pan Alive competition in 2012. She plays the tenor pan. Asia is currently in her first year of high school, where she is an honour student succeeding in all her subjects. Her interests include playing the piano and the guitar. Asia was a longtime member of the Burlington Aquatic Devilrays, a competitive swim team in her city. Currently, Asia writes for her high school’s student newsletter and is also a member of the school swim team. In her spare time, she loves reading and listening to music, but also works part-time at the local library. Asia’s goal is to one day study in England and become the next J.K. Rowling!
Sixteen year-old Avery is a dynamic grade 11 honour student at Saltfleet District High School. She is identified as “deafblind” due to congenital Retinoblastoma. Avery joined the HYSO family for HYSO’s 2013 Christmas production as a guest vocalist. She currently has the lead role in Hill Park Secondary’s Art Smart Program in their 2014 production of SHREK the Musical. Avery’s aspiration after completing high school is to pursue post-secondary education in the field of performing arts.