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Peter Telfer

Well known drummer, percussionist and composer Peter Telfer who died yesterday morning at age 63, was “deeply Catholic, and constantly holding the Trinidad and Tobago experience, with the experience of his Catholicism and fusing both of these into music and into art”.

That was how the founder of the musical group Mawasi Experience was remembered by Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon.

The Archbishop said the Port-of-Spain Archdiocese had lost a “wonderful man, a great Catholic, and a true patriot of Trinidad and Tobago”.

In a statement shared with the Catholic News, Archbishop Gordon described his first experience of hearing Telfer’s O Creator: A Call to Praise: “It woke me up because here you had this rhythm and this chant, and this music that was so different from others we had or experimented within the Church, and it was us, it was our rhythm, our chant. It resonated with us, a Caribbean people…”

Telfer had been in the Intensive Care Unit at the Arima General Hospital and for more than two weeks

Telfer and the Mawasi Experience, which marked its 41st anniversary earlier this week, were well known in the local Roman Catholic community and for their involvement in cultural productions over the years. The group had been based at the Sacred Heart RC Church in Port of Spain and for many years were featured at Sunday Masses there.

Glowing tribute was paid to Telfer by the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC). The group described his passing as a great loss to T&T’s cultural fraternity.

“He was one of the leading drummers in Trinidad and Tobago and was responsible for the teaching and guidance of many young drummers in the country. Bro Telfer was considered by many as a very beautiful soul, who was a most respectful and considerate person,” the group said in a statement.

“Bro Telfer was always very enthusiastic and forthcoming in his response to all matters related to drumming and the arts in general. His eagerness, passion and willingness to always respond positively to the call to duty was not only refreshing but made him a most valuable asset for development within the drumming and art fraternity

“As the leader of the Mawasi Experience, Bro. Peter Telfer, will be gladly remembered by NJAC for his group’s significant participation in the historic 50th Anniversary service of the Trinidad and Tobago Black Power Revolution of 1970, which was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, on 26th February 2020.”

Telfer’s death was also being mourned at the Ministry of Arts and Culture.

“Mr Telfer’s passing was a great loss and his talent and passion for the arts certainly made Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural landscape even richer,” a media release from the ministry stated.

He was described as a patriot, gifted drummer and composer “who always displayed his national pride and was always adorned in red, white and black.”

“As a Cultural Officer Two with the former Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, his colleagues fondly remembered Peter as someone who not only worked in the administration of the sector but was also passionate about the advancement of culture and the arts in Trinidad and Tobago.”