Frank “Gerian” Lynch

Dear Editor,

I suppose I should share a little of the blame for not hearing or knowing that two of Guyana’s expert pannists had passed away. I was therefore not able to utilize the local multi-media to pay appropriate tribute in a timely manner. But then, I was reliably informed that even former Prime Minister Hamilton Green, a steel pan enthusiast and one–time executive was also not aware in good time. (Frequently I do play pan music on my TV show.)

Even with due respect to Franklyn Vieira’s Radio 104.1 Lite F.M. not many local steel-band lovers had heard that Frank “Gerian” Lynch and Ivan Chapman, both long–serving pannists and expert tuners had passed on over the past two/three weeks.

And never will I blame His Excellency’s government Department of Culture for any seeming indifference to the status and passing of these two pioneers in pan. A busy coalition Culture Minister and his Director of Culture would hardly have known about these fellows’ contributions to our indigenous musical culture. A forgivable sign of the times?

Former Parliamentarian and Leader/Director of the famed Chronicle Atlantic Steel and Brass Orchestra hurried home to be part of Lynch’s final farewell activities over the past weekend. Rudy Bishop was livid at the fact that Frank “Gerian” Lynch was not accorded even minimal courtesies by officialdom. Stating that “Gerian” Lynch would precede the world- known Atlantic on its tours to Russia, Brazil, North America etc to ensure well-tuned pans and other organizational arrangements, Bishop declared that “Frank Lynch, if he had been a Trinidadian, would have been honoured by the state as the pantheon of pannists like Spree Simon, Ellie Mannet and Rudolph “Hammer” Charles received. One of “Gerian’s” last successes was producing the Buxton Champion Steel band as its tuner”. Lynch was 74.

Ivan Chapman was another expert tuner who tuned for and trained hundreds of students of the regular winners of the North Georgetown Multilateral School Band. He also worked for the Culture Department’s National School of Music. On a personal note Editor, I must reveal that as a youth I had longed to learn to play pan but did little about it. I was therefore thrilled to see my last daughter Suzanne, whilst at North “Multi”, playing the first pan. Taught by Ivan Chapman.

As I ponder this and related issues I conclude that I really shouldn’t be surprised at our national indifference to our aged or past heroes, This current Guyanese generation is a copycat lot—yearning for other people’s culture, fashion, music and even accents. Indeed to me many have migrated in their minds.  How long have we not planned Halls of Fame for past sportsmen, Calypsonians, other musicians?

Good bye in peace to “Gerian” and Ivan.

Yours faithfully,

Allan Arthur Fenty

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