News Releases

The World has Lost Another Steelpan Great With the Passing of Ken “Professor” Philmore

For Release Upon Receipt - October 1, 2018


The following statement on the passing of Ken Philmore is issued by the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal of The University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, Professor Brian Copeland.

It was with deep sadness that I received word of the passing of Ken “Professor” Philmore yesterday, September 30. “Prof” was not just a remarkable proponent of the art of pan, but a really energetically kind-spirited individual as well. He was a shining example to young aspiring pannists everywhere. The world has lost another steelpan great, this one going all too soon.

Although my association with “Prof” was a relatively brief one, I was proud to have him collaborate with us in the early days of the development of the Percussive Harmonic Instrument (P.H.I.). As I recall, he was probably the first such professional collaborator to carry a test unit home. It was through him that we got a full appreciation of the level of professionalism required in our work. It was because of him, and his critique of that early design, that the instrument took the form that it has today. He also assisted in the development of the stands for the G-Pan and the P.H.I.

He leaves a legacy of dynamic stage performance and a deep unshakeable love of and commitment to pan and music. If we truly honour that legacy, we who are left behind should make every effort to do all that is necessary to build on the foundation that Ken “Professor” Philmore and other departed steelpan pioneers created. Significantly, the leaders of the steelpan community need to come together to ensure that each aspect of the industry is sustainably developed to its fullest potential. 

On behalf of The UWI community and the P.H.I. development team I extend condolences to his relatives, in particular, his wife and children. May his soul rest in the peace that awaits us all.



About Professor Brian Copeland

Professor Copeland graduated with a BSc in Electrical Engineering from The UWI St. Augustine in 1978, an MSc in Electrical Engineering (Control Systems) from the University of Toronto in 1981, and a PhD in Electrical Engineering (Control Systems) from the University of Southern California in 1990.

He was a Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at The University of West Indies from 2007 to 2015. From 1997 to 2007, he was the Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The UWI. He has lectured in Digital Electronics, and Microprocessor Systems Design and Control Systems.

Additionally, he was Co-ordinator of the Real Time Systems Group (RTSG), a UWI unit for developing university/industry liaison through impactful R&D projects. At the RTSG, Professor Copeland was Project Leader for the design and construction of the Electronic Scoreboard at the Queen’s Park Oval. He currently co-ordinates the Steelpan Initiatives Project (SIP), which saw the development and patenting of the G-Pan, a re-engineered form of the traditional steelpan, and the Percussive Harmonic instrument (P.H.I.), an electronic form of the traditional steelpan. Professor Copeland is also the Convener of the Steelpan Research Centre, UWI, and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of CARIRI.

Professor Copeland has won many prestigious awards. In 2008, he was the first recipient of the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and in 2007 he was a joint recipient of the Chaconia Medal Gold as a member of the G-Pan development team. Among other awards, he also received the Guardian Life Premium Teaching Award in 2002, the BP/AMOCO Fellowship Award for Senior Academic Staff (UWI) in 2001, and a LASPAU/Fulbright scholarship for the doctoral programme at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles) in 1987.

On April 29, 2016, he was named as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal Designate of The UWI St. Augustine Campus. He assumed office on July 1, 2016, and his appointment is for a period of five years. 


About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in BarbadosJamaica,Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of "The", hence The UWI)