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It’s time for Savannah Party
It is the only competition on planet Earth that features over 2,000 musicians of percussive instruments on one stage. The eagerly awaited semifinals for large and medium conventional steel orchestras in the 2014 National Panorama takes place on Sunday at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, at noon.
The large band category will field 15 steelbands and one of the day’s big attractions, apart from the pan music, will be a pool on The Greens. The 70-foot-long pool will be introduced by Pan Trinbago and the Pan Splash Posse.
This week, Pan Trinbago secretary Richard Forteau assured: “Everything is ready and in place for this weekend. We actually begin on Saturday with the Single Band and Small Band semifinals, at noon, in the Big Yard. Because of our concern over these categories not attracting large audiences, we are allowing free admission to school students and the young people of orphanages to Saturday’s semifinals. This is Pan Trinbago’s effort to get the young people to hear and appreciate the music for the national instrument.”
The first official Panorama competition was held in 1963 and was won by Pan Am North Stars of St James, playing Anthony Williams’ arrangement of Sparrow’s Dan is the Man. In the final, ten bands faced the judges. Scoring 85 points, four less than North Stars, for second place was Sundowners, performing Harry and Mama, another Sparrow calypso. Securing third place was Desperadoes playing The Road by Lord Kitchener and scoring 84 points.
For most of its editions the semifinal round of competition usually produces fiercer competition than the finals as every contestant holds no punches to impress the judges to earn a place in the final. Memorable past semifinal performances include Renegades (Statue); Antillean All Stars (Bassman); Tokyo (Pan in Danger and Special Brew); Pandemonium (Sailing); Merrytones (Lucifer); Renegades (Bees Melody); Phase II Pan Groove (Birthday Party and Jam It With You); and, Fonclaire (Pan by Storm).
As a former panman, I can attest that Panorama is not for the faint of heart. Just like the selections mentioned before, which didn’t win the overall title, there have been performances, some not even making it to a final, that remained etched in the heart of every bona fide pan enthusiast.
Coming first to my mind is Jupiter, performed by Diego Martin’s Merrytones. Also falling within this special brew of Panorama performances are Curry Tabanca (Trinidad All Stars); Party Tonight (Desperadoes); I Come Out to Play (Scherzando); Pan on the Move and Pan on the Run (Starlift); Pan Rebels and Rags to Riches (Phase II); Bongo, Play One and Distant Drums (Harmonites); Miss Harriman (Tokyo); Mas in Madison Square Garden (Invaders); and, Sing in She Party (Pandemonium).
When it comes to mindblowing arrangements and performances, Sunday is expected to be no different to preceding years. The usual suspects are all there, inclusive of past national champions Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars, Witco Desperadoes, Republic Bank Exodus, Solo Harmonites, bpTT Renegades, PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars, White Oak Starlift, and defending champion Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove.
Another reason to expect some amazing music is the exceptional calibre of the arrangers. The 15 musicians who will be placing their creativity on the line are foreign-based Andy Narell, Liam Teague, Arddin Herbert and Robert Greenidge, as well as Michael Toby, Pelham Goddard, Seion Gomez, Leon “Smooth” Edwards, Duvone Stewart, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Keith Salcedo, Terrence “BJ” Marcelle, Ken “Professor” Philmore, Ray Holman and Clarence Morris. Of the lot, only five have previously captured the coveted title among large conventional bands. They are Greenidge, Goddard, Edwards, Sharpe and Holman.
Admission to Panorama is Grand Stand - $300, North Stand - $350 and Greens $350.
For more information about Panorama, visit Pan Trinbago’s Web site pantrinbago.co.tt/