On show were the five large conventional steel orchestras which have won 43 of the 56 National Panorama championships held since 1963. The bands—Massy Trinidad All Stars, Desperadoes, Republic Bank Exodus, bpTT Renegades, Phase II Pan Groove in partnership with Hadco—showed why they are considered to be a cut above other steelbands in terms of musicianship, instrumental quality and execution of music of any genre.
Saturday’s event was a cooler affair and several patrons were seen from as early as 5.30 pm filing into the venue with huge coolers, a few even with tables, tablecloths, cutlery and dining accessories.
Seen in the audience were Speaker Bridgid Annisette George, Minister of Community Development Culture and the Arts, Nyan Gadsby Dolly, Minister of Planning, Camille Regis Robinson, former National Security Minister Brig General Carl Alfonso, Justice Malcolm Holdip, trade unionist Mario Alves, Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz and former vice president Byron Serrette.
The show began promptly at 7 pm with the playing of the national anthem by Exodus. Holder of the Chaconia Medal (Gold), Exodus produced what was arguably the night’s best rounded performance, its repertoire consisting of Pan in A Minor; Air on a G String, conducted by Jesus Acosta; Bailamos; Jordu; Flying Home; Calypso Rising, vocalised by Natalie Yorke; Nessum Dorma, featuring Eddie Cumberbatch and a Lydians ensemble; and, Ganges Meets the Nile. The latter item also featured vocals by Yorke and choreography by the pan musicians.
Phase II performed second and its set offered a couple surprises like arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe playing keyboards during the band’s performance with 3 Canal for the rapso trio’s Talk. Phase II opened its set by playing the ISF theme but showed its prowess in pan with its interpretation and execution of Sunita, a single made popular by Multi Symptom.
Young Antonio Waithe also guested with the Woodbrook steelband, singing Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up.
Renegades offered a spirited performance but it was the singing of guest artiste Arielle Cowie that brought the audience to its feet when she rendered Jennifer Hudson’s And I’m Telling You. Elegant in red, Cowie gave one of the most exhilarating performances for the night. Renegades rounded off its night’s chore by playing the nine selections which earned it nine national Panorama titles.
Desperadoes also opened its performance with the ISF theme song, composed by Sharpe. The band played a wide variety of pieces including Autumn Leaves, Bound to Dance, Night in Tunisia, the Can piece from The Orpheus and last year’s National Panorama winning selection 5 Star Akil’s Different Me.
The band’s guest artiste, former National Calypso Monarch Karene Asche, also moved the audience to thunderous applause when she sang Every Knee Shall Bow.
Anticipation rippled through sections of the audience as fans of reigning National Panorama champion Trinidad All Stars looked forward to their band’s performance. There was some suspense before the actual performance however as former national calypso monarch/Road March winner David Rudder preceded All Stars in a surprise decision by the organisers. Obliging to an impromptu request from ISF executive member, Ainsworth Mohammed, Rudder, accompanied on keyboards by Pelham Goddard, performed Dedication. Urged on by cheering patrons, he returned to sing Dus’ in Dey Face.
All Stars cut a beautiful picture on stage, its female members wearing elegant, floral silk gowns from the Lisa Sargeant collection. All Stars took patrons on a wonderous musical journey opening its set with Sunrise and the ISF theme song, followed by Oye Mi Canto and Morning, noon and night in Vienna.
It was at this point that the ten-time national Panorama champion dropped its big surprise. As the band began the opening bars of Shape of you, entering from stage left, playing a jewel-encrusted instrument, was acclaimed Barbadian saxophonist Arturo Tappin. This union brought several patrons stage side with the band playing its winning 2017 National Panorama selection–Full Extreme.
Time seemed to fly on Saturday night—before you knew it, three hours had elapsed since the national anthem had been played, with the programme’s climax coming at 10.45 pm. Many patrons, seemingly reluctant to exit the venue, remained seated enjoying what morsels were still in their picnic coolers.
In contrast to lengthy Panorama programmes through the years, this premier ISF event left some people voicing that the music ended too soon. A few others were overheard griping that, depending on where one sat, the sound system wasn’t adequate.
The ISF is moving ahead with its plans to stage another steelband production at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (Sapa) to showcase First Citizens Supernovas, Skiffle and one of the Big 5.
Excellent article. It seemed obvious that the crowd favoured the panorama renditions. Given this, I think what may be needed is the development of different contexts for pan, outside of the Carnival-panorama context. We already have some pan-parang at Christmas time, so perhaps we could expand that, we could also attempt a revival of the classical context( at Easter for example, or at another time) . The pan-jazz context is another possibility , and even Indo-music........the possibilities are as endless as T&T's cultural and ethnic rainbow.
That being said, a mixed show ( as was last Saturday's) is always a treat and I look forward to many more.
"and execution of music of any genre"
When will Trinidadians DISPEL this MYTH?
Denise Haynes I like your comment, you gave some good ideas .
I could not have said it better. This was a don't miss event for any true lover of pan. I got there during Exodus performance and felt as if I was there from the beginning...such was the atmosphere. Kudos to the organisers for showing Pan Trinbago that we could have a great show and still get home at a reasonable time. The concept of multiple stages worked extremely well. Looking forward to more offerings from the ISF. Thank you for a lovely experience.