Today, we recall Pat Bishop?s dedication to the steelband movement, with which she became fervently involved, directing Witco Desperadoes on eight major US tours, including two at Carnegie Music Hall. She was the first person to conduct a combined pan and symphony orchestra—Desperadoes—and the New York Pops Symphony. In 2005, Bishop penned her thoughts on the steelband movement in TT for When Steel Talks an initiative which promotes the history and culture of the steelband worldwide.
She said she remembered singing with Esso Tripoli and abandoning singing soon after that for pan arranging. She studied the pans and began arranging hymns for Birdsong and then for other bands. She wrote that she was particularly interested in music composed specifically for pan and considered it a privilege to work with Jit Samaroo, Ken Philmore, Ray Holman and Boogsie Sharpe.
Pat Bishop lamented though, the loss of the music, because panmen were not musically literate, making it difficult to teach music scored for the conventional orchestra. Panmen she noted also tended to forget the music very quickly. She also expressed concern over the quality of the sounds of certain pans particularly the tenors and had been working to resolve the problems facing the steelband through Lydian Steel, an orchestra she had created. Bishop thought that music had to be taught in TT schools, that pupils should study theory, history, technique and performance, and the pan she argued could be one of the instruments they learned.
During the years Pat Bishop battled for country and culture, she always understood the responsibility her enormous talents brought. In 2007, at a leadership forum she told participants that they had to understand the people they led. She drew on her experiences with steel band Witco Desperadoes and the choir Lydian Singers to demonstrate how leaders have to be responsive to the individual needs of those whom they lead.
“I have to lead in such a way that I will follow,” she said, adding that followers ask questions like “Who is the legitimate leader?” and “What can he or she bring to the table to persuade me to follow?”
“Sometimes you have to lead from behind and the leader is the chief servant,” Bishop concluded.
Pat Bishop served TT with distinction.