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Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Global - Nevin Roach take a bow! The competition aspect of PanoGrama 2021 has been competently adjudicated by an esteemed panel of judges, points have been awarded and the competition postmortems have begun, as the event’s virtual audience weighs in on who their favorites were. A longer-term perspective, however, requires that we connect the dots, and it is that regard that I would suggest that PanoGrama 2021 merits in depth scrutiny and Mr. Nevin Roach our kudos. -- Andre Moses

Mainstreaming the Steelpan Requires Much  Broader Ambition

If the PanoGrama was a live show, most of the conversation would take place afterwards. But the virtual experience is distinctly interactive. From the time you log in, ‘you are inside and de conversation start’, no ‘long talk’, interaction is effected in soundbites and emojis, but is at the same time knowledgeable and analytical, toing and froing between audience members and between the audience and the event hosts.

While the critical mass of the performers hailed from Trinidad and Tobago, participation from England, the USA, Canada, France and from the other Caribbean islands, celebrated the growing international appeal of the steelpan instrument. This also created an interesting sub plot, in that inventor first dibs did not constitute any obvious advantage with regard to technical skill or musicianship, and Frenchman Mathieu Borgne stylishly led the competition through its first two rounds, before inventor pride was assuaged by the eventual final night adjudication pecking order and Keshaun Julien’s emphatic winning performance.

Breaking into new markets means selling the instrument as widely as we can. We need more global musicians to claim the steelpan as their instrument-of-choice for the steelpan to become mainstream and find pride of place at the Grammys in the not-too-distant future. Pan’s ‘Diasporian’ footprint in the Caribbean, the USA and the UK is an important facet of its present international projection, but mainstreaming pan requires much broader ambition. Pan and pan, pan and conventional instruments, pan and dance, pan in school, pan and jazz, pan and original music for the steelpan, pan and popular music, pan parang, pan chutney, pan in film, pan in hip hop, pan and gospel, pan in Africa, pan in Asia, pan in South America, pan in Western and Eastern Europe, pan in education, pan at the Grammys, no ‘either/or’ business, a global full-court-press for pan. Not pan as a Trinidad and Tobago phenomenon, pan as a global phenomenon with Trinidad and Tobago centrally positioned in pan’s global thrust.

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This is where PanTrinbago should play a leading role. One way is to establish an international think tank of  PEOPLE* to brainstorm practical ideas. Technology makes such an exercise possible. It could start with a few PEOPLE* with different experiences, knowledge and skillsets.
* PEOPLE not only Pan People

With all due respect to Panograma organizers, please chose to promote the SOUND OF THE STEELBAND, that is Pan and Pan, you are in a position to encourage pan players to make back-up tracks using other voices of the pan family. 

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