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The Pan Movement across the world has gone into orbit but our Panorama is still stuck in the mud. Please know that the reality is our instrument is no longer ours: the pan has taken on a life of its own and is roaming freely, taking root wherever it is appreciated. At this time, our only claim to it is that pan originated in Trinbago. Trinbago as the mecca of pan music is now becoming in jeopardy. If better music is being played elsewhere, there is where the focus and attention will be. The organizers of the Panorama are stifling the growth, creativity and development of pan music in Trinbago, especially at Panorama.

               Panorama 2015 is now behind us and the decision of the judges is final, but almost everyone disagrees with their selections. What this tells us is that the judges have to go, that the judges do not have the capacity to assess and appreciate creativity and innovation in music, that the judges have become programmed to the extent that they seem to be working from some formula and that the judges are stuck in a rut.

Music that is creative and innovative confuses them and with a simple stroke of their pencil they dismiss anything that might be outside of their comfort zone. Where does this leave our Panorama musicians – our arrangers?

The judges have our arrangers in a state of confusion.

If we are stuck with these judges who are selected by Pan Trinbago, then understand that the ‘formula’ has to evolve, because the music is certainly not stuck in time. There are arrangers who are taking the music to another level. My question at this time is, are any of these judges musicians. A degree in music does not make you a musician and does not give you the ability to judge the music of musicians. The ability to teach scales to children does not qualify you to judge a Panorama competition. To the judges on the panel of Panorama 2015, I pose this question. “How many minutes of published music have you produced?“

So you award your points and there is a winner and nine losers and the state of confusion is perpetuated. At this 2015 Panorama the band that was announced as winner clearly did not have the best music, which happens all too often at Panorama. As a result we are no better off this year than we were before. Keen competition is what brings about improvement. An arranger knows when there is an arrangement that is better than his/hers and would strive to be better. But when the judges, with their left-brain formulas, award their points and a winner is announced who clearly did not deserve to win, then our Panorama is in jeopardy. This is a competition that is watched and scrutinized internationally by musicians. What are they to think. It remains popular but it is not growing. Most of our bands sound the same year after year and this is condoned and encouraged by the judges. The judges and therefore Pan Trinbago are contributing significantly to the demise of Pan in Trinidad and Tobago.

               The system of judging and/or the judges have to go. There are six judges on the panel for the large band category of Panorama. My suggestion is that a maximum of two judges from Trinbago be on the panel and the remaining four be sought out internationally to eliminate any bias that the local judges might have. Only then will we be able to say that the competition was fairly judged and the best band on the night won.

               No more than one-third of the judges on the panel should be from Trinbago and at least one of these should be from Tobago. The remaining judges could be sought from countries such as, but not restricted to, Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Haiti, Martinique, Columbia, Argentina, Brazil, countries of the African Continent, India etc.

               Please let us not take this lightly. Who we are as a people and our contribution to the world are at stake here. I appeal to the general public and specifically to the arrangers, captains and tuners of all steel-bands to take action now and get rid of this system of judging Panorama. I am suggesting a meeting be held as soon as possible. Please contact me through email- dosomethingforpan@gmail.com


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Comment by Claude Gonzales on January 27, 2018 at 12:14pm

Is long time now people talking about JUDGING and PANORAMA on this forum!!!

Comment by Martin Maitland on March 2, 2015 at 10:53pm

Courtney Bartholomew...... I just don’t get it…. Is it because All Stars is in the mix now that we have this who-Ha about who is dominating Panorama? The last 18 years of panorama has been the most open in the history of Trinidad panorama. It maybe because the standard have dropped and the performances have weltered into almost nonexistence we find ourselves with this predicament. Where were all the detractors and complaining pan people during the 80’s and 90’s when two bands dominated and exchanged first place a total of 14 times between them with five wins going to Desperadoes and nine to Renegades. In the 21st century we have had four bands winning multiple times. Starting with Desperadoes in 2000; Exodus in 2001; All Stars in 2002; Exodus in 2003 and 2004; Phase II 2005 and 2006; All Stars in 2007; Phase II in 2008; Silver Stars 2009 and 2010;  All Stars in 2011 and 2012; Phase II in 2013 and 2014 All Stars in 2015. Apart from Renegades no other bad has won 3 times… if you look at Panorama outside of Trinidad lots of orchestras have dominated their respective Panorama competitions. Look at New York for example and Despers USA 1993 to 1998 that’s 5 years on victories… St Lucia Diamond Steel 2000 to 2008 won 6 times during those years. London… Ebony Steel Band… 1988 to 1999 11 victories in those years and again 2001 to 2010 has 7 victories in those years. Grenada… Angel Harps 1970 to 1999 they had 10 wins and 3 between 2005 and 2011. Antigua… Hell’s Gate won 7 times between 2002 and 2013. So please stop the talk about dominating panorama.  Please stop the talk about domination of our panorama. The judges are not to blame. We have a panel of judges that are changed every year and over the last 20 years we would have had an opportunity to have 33 different outcomes for panorama. It is possible the criteria needs to be refined but the judges are not to blame.

Comment by courtney barholomew on March 2, 2015 at 5:27pm

To Mr. Martin Maitland, the objective of the article on Saturday 28th February was not to enflame. Look at what our Panorama is becoming. Listen to Skiffle and you tell me if they deserved to come last. And what about Fonclair. Panorama is now a two band show. Something is wrong with our Panorama Sir. I am assigning blame to the judges. What is wrong may very well be more than just the judges. Whatever is wrong must be corrected now or this which is so precious to us would become embroiled in bacchanal. I say we start with the judging of Panorama; the objective being not to please anyone but to keep Panorama growing and improving through fair judging and keen competition. Arrangers would have to either rise to the occasion or give way. Pan is no longer ours, it belongs to the world, but it is our responsibility to set a very high standard in all areas of pan for the rest of the world to emulate.

Comment by Martin Maitland on March 2, 2015 at 10:38am

The point of this entire thing is no one will ever be happy. I have been to Panorama in London… Same outcome… unhappy pan players…. In Germany… Unhappy pan players… USA… Unhappy pan players.. Boston… same result… Toronto… same result…. Grenada; St Vincent; St Lucia; Antigua… All with the same sentiments and results. Anytime you have humans involved, there will always be dissatisfaction with results. You cannot and I repeat cannot get international judges who will be impartial. What we have in Trinidad is unique and cannot be judged by anyone else. The criteria may need changing as well as an even number of judges. Put the zonal finals back, so the East; South and Tobago bands have a chance to win something. Limit the number for small and single pan bands. 

Comment by Marilyn Roberts on March 2, 2015 at 7:32am

I agree with the above comment. I am not a musician but credit must be given to the best music arrangement and not by favoritism. Music is  the food of love so lets play on. I appeal to music arrangers to get up and fight for the years that you have spent contributing to Panorama. Get up and fight for what is right.Judges have to start thinking out of the box where music and arrangement is concern. They listen but they don.t understand music they love to hear repetitive notes and runs and call that music. God help us all. Our instrument will sure no longer belong to us. Wake up Trinbago.


Comment by Martin Maitland on February 28, 2015 at 3:09pm

For someone who professes to be educated on the Judging criteria, you really know little.

You sound like a Boogsieite…. Where were you the last two years? Is it because Phase II won both years you fail to criticize the judging system? I have been to Panorama all over the world and if you know anything about judging, you will know “YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE” there is always going to be disagreement in a competition. Every band or player strives to be the best and feels they are the winners. The only competition where the winner is undisputed is a race you physically have to run… even then, there are always doubters stoking the fire asking questions on potential drug use of the athletes. Panorama is not dead and will not die anytime soon… Both you and I will be long gone before that day. I am an All Stars fan and proud to say so. I was one of the first ones to say I didn’t like Unquestionable when it was first selected, however I understand Leon Smooth’s choice and reasoning behind the selection. I didn’t even like it the first time I heard All Stars play it but it grew on me and by the semifinals, I know they were on to something special. Every musician or band has their signature and that is what determines their success.

What I think you should do is listen to all the tunes online or wherever you can have access to them and judge honestly for yourself. I even wanted Fonclaire to win, but they lacked the fire and drive they had in years past when they were close to winner’s row. It was sweet but more of a last lap chipping jam than a panorama fire and blast. Most of the renditions played on final night by the large band could put you to sleep.

Even the mighty Renegades had a hot tune but failed to light the savannah with musical flame. Jam dem Hard was played at a Jam dem slow pace.

This is Panorama not musical festival, and as such we need the tempo or something to really dance  

As evident in the Savanah All Stars were the only large band to bring the fire and as a result sounded different to all other bands and that is why they won. Never mind the fact, they may sound like years gone, they are the only band through the years who have changed with the times and morphed into a real force to be reckoned with. The medium bands were where the fire and passion was on the night.

Boogsie came second because he was the best of a fledgling bunch of chipping music with little drive and fire. Unquestionable was delivered at an unquestionable pace and fire. Not too fast or too slow. Getting the tempo right is key.   That is the master craftsman Smooth.   

Comment by Kwame on February 28, 2015 at 3:06pm

Was a survey conducted to establish that almost everyone disagrees with the results for Panorama 2015? I do agree that the system could be looked at with the intent to improve on it as we go forward. Judges from external would not guarantee that bias would not happen, as we now live in a global village and the recognised pannist and arrangers travel across the globe plying their trade. I am of the belief that once their is competition that is being judged, you can expect dissatisfaction with the results.

Comment by merrytonestothebone on February 28, 2015 at 9:32am

Mr Thomas, are you referring to ALL the Panorama competitions or just one?

Comment by odw on February 28, 2015 at 12:14am

Bernard Thomas
I wish you could elaborate on your comment “Whatever the faults of the panorama and steelband may be, judging is not one of them.” It’s obvious to me you are new to this Forum. The good Doctor has helped articulate what has been a continuous debate/discussion on this board since it's inception.

Comment by Tellison A Forde on February 28, 2015 at 12:03am

The reality is Pan Movement have been in orbit from the 50's but has just been observed over head in the suns path at various locations,i truly don't know from what date,Month or year it was lost,the ownership of the instrument : . It is not my belief that Trinbago the Mecca of Pan is in jeopardy,in jeopardy of what ?? in my opinion Trinbago the mecca has received more attention,and that's my opinion eh!!.   So now your suggestion is two judges from Trinbago ok cool,the Jamaican may want to hear a little reggae in the Panorama tune selection,but he won't say that he just judging in Trinbago, Martnique some Zuke,which will sound good eh!! and Brazil Samba now that will be awesome !!!! but after Panorama done with that mix up Judging it go be ah nex set ah complaining again,My opinion is leave well enough alone,and enjoy yourself,have a good time again that is my opinion eh !! not yours or any one else. But i have a question What is the meaning of Panorama and who gave it the name ? now all you Scholars in the Mecca Of Pan jumping up Celebrating we thing,Tell Me !!!! I will give you the answer on December 25th.2015.


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