by Shareen Gray
The trend for UK pan players attending Trinidad Carnival to take part in their Panorama has been happening for decades. Shamefully – as a steelpan industry person – I hadn’t attended until this year, and this was a spontaneous trip made as a result of watching Renegades Steel Orchestra on TV in the UK at the Trinidad Panorama Semi-Finals. Their arrangement of the song Year For Love is my 2018 anthem, and I’m addicted to this spectacular piece of music, produced by Duvone Stewart. Not only did I know they were to be the champions, I also knew this would be a historical performance, and a classic piece of music that will be going down in history.
The song is simply divine, and has taken steelband music to different heights (in fact, four universities in the USA will be studying this piece of music for theses). So, two days after hearing it at the semis, I booked my ticket to attend the Panorama Finals on Saturday 10 February, to witness Renegades’ victory after 21 years. The performance was even more than I expected, the production value exceptional and the tiny seven points difference between the first two bands speaks volumes.
UK pan players take part in various steelbands at Panorama in Trinidad; there were over 70 this year partaking in Junior Panorama and the small, medium and large bands. It became clear to me that Trinidad is truly the Mecca for pan players. Each day leading up to carnival there are raves, beach parties and limes in the panyards. It was an infectious experience. I also attended the South Panorama Small Bands final in Skinner Park. The infrastructure in place for these competitions there, and at the Savannah in Port-of-Spain for the Medium and Large Band finals, is so professional that it makes our UK panorama appear pitiful in comparison.
In a nutshell, this destination is a haven for the pan people, and I believe 2018 has been my personal launch to attending T&T annually.