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Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant

The steelpan community was plunged into mourning yesterday over the passing of one of its iconic arrangers, Milton “Wire” Austin.

Austin, arranger and leader of San Fernando’s NLCB Fonclaire Steel Orchestra, died yesterday morning.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell, in extending heartfelt condolences, remembered Austin for his significant contribution to T&Ts culture.

“Austin has contributed significantly to our culture and has served us well. His musical arrangements will remain with us. I thank him for his role in creating the proud and formidable Fonclaire Steel Band and for the sweet melodies he arranged over the past decades. San Fernando and Trinidad and Tobago will forever remain eternally grateful for his contribution,” Mitchell said.

The band said yesterday that Austin passed away at about 6.10 am but the cause of death was not announced.

A founding member of Fonclaire, Austin was said to have led the band to several victories in the South/Central Panorama since 1973, as well as a string of top-three finishes at the national competition, among them second-place finishes from 1989 to 1991 with arranger Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore.

Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.