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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Edmund and Lil Hart, Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung... Power couples of T&T Mas’

EDMUND AND LIL HART
Complimenting each other all the way in their mas-centred lives were the legendary power couples of mas—Edmund and Lil Hart and Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung.  Together they captured a total of ten Band of the Year titles, five a piece, between 1966 and 1988. They were also runners up on 12 occasions, the Lee Heungs seven and the Harts five times.  In both the King of the Bands and Queen of the Bands categories, the Lee Heungs captured the title six times while the Harts did so twice.  In total, these two power couples produced some 62 bands between 1961 and 1994.
Hart’s...oldest surviving Carnival band
Today, the oldest surviving Carnival band in Trinidad and Tobago, in the large band category, is Hart’s, a econd generation family organisation, that celebrated its 50th year of conceptualisation in 2010. The evolution into thousands of masqueraders from a small band of 140 in 1961, the Hart’s Carnival Band, started by Edmund and Lil Hart, following stints after moving from San Fernando with Harold Saldenah and Bobby Ammon, is truly a remarkable one in the history of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival. 
Today, their children have firmly taken control of their parent’s legacy and those children, Louis, Gerald, Thais, Aixa and Karen, have kept the Hart’s carnival flag flying high. “Fun in Mas” continues to be the motto of the popular band that passed to the current generation in 1993. The revered founding father of the legendary mas dynasty, Edmund, is still around in his late 80s to offer advice but it is his children who carry the mantle nowadays. Lil Hart died in 1991.
It didn’t take the newly-formed group decades ago to capture their first title with the portrayal “Playing Cards” in 1966 to be followed by four other titles with presentations “Inferno” (1970), “Mas Sweet Mas” (1983), “Islands in the Sun” (1986) and “Out of this World” (1988). During the heyday of their reign, in 1973, Edmund Hart received the Humming Bird Gold Medal for his contribution to Carnival development. 
His wife Lil hart is credited as being the designer who took the traditions of historical depictions into the realm of the more imaginative. For their 50th year conceptualisation celebrations, the children of Edmund and Lil Hart chose to revisit their past and honour their parents in 2010 by portraying the band titles over the years with sections within the band named after such themes as “Brazilian Fiesta” and Latin Fire,” “Oriental Fantasy and Utopia” and “Persian Empire and Mesopotamia.”  The band saw many of the masqueraders of the past returning to take part in the celebrations along with their children, grandchildren and even some great grandchildren.
Lee Heung’s hat-trick
Recently turned 90, Stephen Lee Heung, like Edmund Hart, began playing mas with Harold Saldenah in the early 1950s. Together with wife Elsie Lee Heung they won the Band-of- the-Year title five times (1967, 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1983) including the hat trick. From 1964 to 1975, Lee Heung’s bands were designed by Carlisle Chang, in 1976 Peter Minshall designed “Paradise Lost” and in 1977, Tedder Eustace designed “Cosmic Aura.” Woodbrook, like so many of the bands of today, including Harts, was the base for their popular mas camp.
As a young man Stephen Lee Heung brought out his first band in 1946 from San Juan, Two Ten Carmen, featuring Egyptian costumes. Siam was next and in 1948, Lee Heung’s wife, sisters and female friends introduced women to the streets, in The House of Hanoverians. China, the Forbidden City, their first Band of the Year title in 1967 was a spectacular display of the temples, gardens and animal life of China and was the only carnival band to have been used on a postage stamp. 
They won again in 1975 for the portrayal We Kind Ah People in which Chang celebrated the various cultures of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Chang’s themes reflected the world’s artistic traditions: Japan, Crete, Central America, Russia and Arabia. China the Forbidden City was the first band sent abroad by the government to the Montreal Expo in 1967, and then on to Toronto’s Caribana.  We Kind Of People was sent to the Dallas Trade Fair in 1975.
Elsie Lee Heung was twice crowned Queen of the Bands, in 1968 winning with “Honey of the Polynesians” and in 1983 with “Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.” In 1975 Stephen Lee Heung received the Humming Bird Medal Gold for his driving force in the Carnival arena.
hart’s presentations
1961—This Was Greece
1962—Flagwavers of Siena
1963—The Etruscans
1964—The Maya
1965—Mesopotamia BC
1966—Playing Cards
1967—Oriental Fantasy
1968—Brazilian Fiesta
1969—Life in the Waters
1970—Inferno
1971—Butterflies and Moths
1972—Four Seasons
1973—A Medieval Dream
1974—Mexico
1975—Whe-Whe
1976—The American Indians
1977—Tribute to Broadway
1978—Adventure on the High Seas
1979—Faces and Places
1980—Reflections of Childhood Days
1981—Let’s Make Waves
1982—Anthony and Cleopatra
1983—Mas Sweet Mas
1984—Tribes
1985—Time for A Tale
1986—Islands in the Sun
1987—Local Sights and Delights
1988—Out of This World
1989—Polynesia 
1990—The Witches Brew
1991—Come Leh We Dance
1992—Bacchanal
lee heung’s presentations
The presentations
1964—Japan-Land of the Kabuki
1965—Les Fetes Galantes Des Versailles
1966—Crete
1967—China, The Forbidden City
1968—Primeval- The Rites of Spring
1969—1001 Nights
1970—Conquest of Space
1971—Yucatan”;
1972—Russian Fairy Tales
1973—East of Java
1974—Terra Firma
1975—We Kind A People
1976—Paradise Lost
1977—Cosmic Aura
1978—Love Is...
1979—Hocus Pocus
1980—The Bermuda Triangle
1981—Shangri-La
1982—Victory at Trafalgar
1983—Rain Forest
1984—Regatta
1985—Charade
1986—Sombrero
1987—Cocoyea Village
1988—Laserium
1989—Pow Wow
1991—Toute Bagai
1992—Columbus 1492-1992
1993—Safari
1994—Festivals
Source: Nasser Khan

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