In what is shaping up to be as fiery a battle as any post-war steelband clash, 12 foreign steelbands will challenge the world’s best when they come against 12 local steel orchestras for the title of International Panorama Champions. This competition, which offers a lucrative prize of US$250,000 takes place at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on August 9.
And while Trinbagonians may look at the foreign bands as easy to beat, be prepared to see them make things tough for the homegrown pannists who have pride at stake. None of the local bands want to end up being among those placing 13th and lower, so all stops have been pulled out and the pannists are all in warrior mode, ready to give their all and then some to seal victory.
The first ever International Conference, which precedes the International Panorama comes off in Trinidad from August 4-9, will see pan aficionados from across the globe coming together to participate in several seminars and workshops on various aspects the pan and the steelband movement.
As for the Panorama, there are three steel orchestras coming in from the US, two from Canada, two from the UK and one each from Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, St Martin, Guyana and Jamaica.
It is mandatory that each steelband participating in the competition has a representative attend the conference that will be held at the Hyatt Regency.
To qualify for the International Panorama steelbands must be a registered member of a Pan Trinbago recognised organisation, except in a situation where no organisation exists, then the respective Cultural Authority must sanction the steelband.
All participating steelbands must comprise a minimum of 75 per cent of citizens of their registered country and each steelband will be permitted to perform with a maximum of 60 and minimum 40 players.
Each participating steelband may select and perform a calypso or soca piece of their choice while arrangers will be allowed to arrange for one steelband in the competition.
According to Pan Trinbago president, Keith Diaz, “In an effort to generate some activities in the communities for both locals and foreigners all foreign bands will be twinned with Trinidad and Tobago steelbands that are not competing in the International Panorama. This is to facilitate the use of instruments that are similar to theirs so they will be able to practise in preparation for the competition.”
Two bands from the Tobago are in the local contingent and all the bands have been practising for this competition for some time now and are not taking any of the foreign bands lightly.
Bands appearing in the competition are: Arima Golden Symphony, bp Renegades, Curepe Scherzando, Massy Trinidad All Stars, NGC Steel Xplosion, Pan Elders, PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars, Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove, Republic Bank Exodus, Supernovas, T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps and Buccooneers Steel Orchestra.
The line-up of foreign bands is as follows: US — Pan Coalition, Brooklyn Steel Orchestra and Mosaic Steel Orchestra; Canada — Pan Fantasy of Ontario and Salah’s Steelband Academy of Quebec; UK — Ebony Steelband of England and Calypsociation Steel of France.