October 18, 2018 Mikhail Neils, the first recipient of the BPTT Jit Samaroo Award, wants to one day arrange for BP Renegades. Neils is the first recipient of the award which is open to members of the BP Renegades who are pursuing Creative Arts degrees in T&T. He is in the third year of his Bachelor’s in Performing Arts in Music at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. He was presented with his cheque at the BP Renegades panyard on October 15 by members of the band’s executive team as well as Balmatie Samaroo, wife of the late arranger Jit Samaroo and their daughter Amrita. “This award means a lot to me, especially being the first recipient. It is a great pleasure to receive such an award from BPTT and the Samaroo family,” Neils said. “My next step is to become an ace tuner, a soloist and arranger for Renegades.” Neils comes from a musical family. His father was a member of BP Renegades and is now one of the top pan tuners. “I consider my father my main inspiration as I take on this path in my life. He gives me the confidence and drive that I need to stay on this track,” Neils explained, adding that he is learning the pan tuning trade from his father. The young musician joined the BP Renegades Youth Steel Orchestra in 2008, playing the tenor pan and has been a member of the BP Renegades Steel Orchestra for the past five years, playing the double second pans. BPTT launched the Jit Samaroo Award in 2017 to align its support for the Renegades with the company’s focus on development through education. The award will be offered to one recipient a year. Recipients will receive $10,000 a year for full-time undergraduate programmes, $8,000 for part-time programmes and $6,000 for diploma or certificate programmes. Recipients must satisfy academic criteria to continue to receive payment and must pledge their commitment to the band depending on the length of their programme. President of the BP Renegades Michael Marcano believes the award is critical to the development of the band. “To this organization this is very important because as a music organization we have to look towards the future and what we want the future to represent. In the future everything will call for formal knowledge so we are desirous of training all of our players to be complete musicians. So this bursary is a step in that direction and for that we are very thankful to BPTT,” he said. This year BP Renegades celebrated its 70th anniversary. BP has been a proud sponsor of the band since 1970. Jit Samaroo has been hailed as one of T&T’s best steel pan arrangers. His relationship with BP Renegades spanned over four decades. During that time he led the band to nine National Panorama titles, including a hattrick from 1995-1997. He was awarded the Hummingbird Medal of Merit (silver) in 1987, the Chaconia Medal (silver) in 1995 and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies in 2003. He passed away in 2016.