Rachel Hayward has been hailed as “Europe’s Top Pan Woman” due to her unique achievements as a pan-player.
Rachel started playing pan in 1985 with the highly successful school steel band — The Radcliffe Rollers — where she was encouraged and inspired by her teachers Richard Murphy and Neil Davison, and tuner Michael “Natsy” Contant, to create her first arrangements and compositions for solo and ensemble steel pans. She successfully applied for an Arts Travel Scholarship from Milton Keynes Borough Council which enabled her to visit the Trinidad Carnival in 1989 — an experience which proved a turning point in her musical career.
After leaving school she continued her classical conservatoire training at the Guildhall School of Music And Drama where she studied double bass and piano. She also holds an MA in music performance from the City University, London, where her doctoral thesis ‘Yellow Bird’ and Pan: the Transmission, Circulation and Re-creation of a Caribbean Song was awarded in 2015 (to read or download the thesis please click here). Since 1996 she has focused exclusively on pan. Her unparalled credentials include winning the UK Soloists Competition, and performing throughout Europe and the Caribbean, most notably in Trinidad (the birthplace of steelpan) where she was the first, and to date only, person of European descent to reach the finals of the World Steelband Soloists Competition (1996).
She has since performed with such prestigious ensembles as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta and was a guest soloist with the Russell Henderson Trio at London’s 606 club. Media credits include Meridian TV’s “Three Minutes”, “Woman’s Hour ” and Dave Gorman’s “Genius” (BBC Radio 4). She was a featured soloist on the contemporary music series “Hear And Now” and “Music Matters” (Radio 3). She has played with top British and Trinidadian steel orchestras, including Starlift and Hummingbirds Pan Groove, in the London and Trinidad Panoramas, and she was the first European pannist to arrange for and conduct a top Trinidadian steel orchestra — The Skiffle Bunch — in their “Feeling the Classics” concert series. She arranged for Eclipse Steel Orchestra (London): they played her arrangement of excerpts from Khatchaturian’s Masquerade Suite at the First European Steelband Festival in Paris (2000). She was invited to participate in the 2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony with Nostalgia Steel Band and in 2015 with Pan Nectar Steel Band she became the first woman of European descent to arrange for a steel band at London’s Notting Hill Carnival. With Simon Limbrick she performed Simon Boswell’s title music for Danny Boyle’s film Alien Love Triangle (1999). She has had several pieces composed for her including solo roles in Roxanna Panufnik’s opera Inkle and Yariko (1997) and Patrick Larley’s Birmingham Spirituals (2014).
She is a published author and her arrangements for steelpans are available from Panyard Inc, Ohio, and Piper Publications; she can also provide sheet music for solo and pan ensembles; please visit the ‘Teaching and Sheet Music” page for details. Her steel bands in Britain and Trinidad regularly win awards in both national and regional competitions, and perform at such prestigious venues as The Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Hall and Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. In 2016 she achieved a lifetime’s ambition as her junior steel band — The Turtles — was selected to perform at Music For Youth’s Primary Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. She has run projects for TAPS (Traditional Arts Projects) and Steel Bands North, and advised the Society for the Promotion of New Music, Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music on their steel pan projects and has been guest lecturer at the Royal College of Music and City University, London.
Rachel’s new album Red Head is now available to download from CD Baby (click link above) or in physical CD format here and you can hear audio clips from selected tracks here . Her 2008 CD, Priestess of Pan is now available to buy or listen for free on Spotify. She lives in Brighton with her husband, author Robert Rankin, two fancy goldfish, a collection of orchids and several saxophones