|Panorama 2012 moment of truth ...|
Panorama 2012 moment of truth has arrived.
The day of reckoning is nigh, when 16 of the nation’s best large conventional steel orchestras face the judges and public to get permission to compete in the final of the biggest pan competitions on the planet. In my 49 years of attending the annual National Panorama competition in the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, this is perhaps the most intriguing of all, its only because of the numerous young and youthful musicians arranging for steelbands this year. In its five-decade existence, this competition has seen a number of revolutionary changes and innovations, all to the enhancement of the national instrument and the competition— from the days of racks on bicycle wheels to the quad pan to sound buffering paraphenalia as is seen in Republic Bank Exodus. The music too has progressed with the passage of time, from that of Anthony Williams’ arrangement of Sparrow’s Dan is the Man for 1963 champion Pan Am North Stars to Bobby Mohammed’s ground-shaking arrangement of Kitchener’s ’67 for Guinness Cavaliers, to give the southern giant its second lien on the national title, to avant garde arrangements by musicians like Leon Edwards (Smooth), Len Sharpe (Boogsie), Robert Greenidge, Bradley and Samaroo.
Gone are Anthony Williams, Bobby Mohammed, Clive Bradley, Steve Achaiba, Earl Rodney, Hershell Puckerin, Beverly Griffith and Neville Jules, and all eyes this year will be on young turks like Shenelle Abraham (Sammy Group of Companies Skiffle); Andre White (Witco Desperadoes); Duvonne Stewart (bpTT Renegades); Arrdin Herbert (CAL Invaders); Liam Teague (Starlift); and Seion Gomez (Solo Harmonites). For every arranger in this competition, pride holds a special place as victory on Carnival Saturday night will immortalise their name in pan lore and history. In Sunday’s semifinal, Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars, Harmonites, Starlift and Desperadoes are the only bands to have won a national title during the first ten years of the competition, with the latter having the bragging rights of being the only steel orchestra to win national titles in every decade since the inception of the Panorama competition in 1963.
The trivia in this year’s semifinal is as intriguing as the competition is. The bands with a chance of becoming the winning most band in the new millennium are Trinidad All Stars, Exodus and Phase II Pan Groove, with three victories apiece. To equal this record, Silver Stars will have to win. As the old people say, come Sunday, the sheep will be separated from the goat, and the wheat from the tares at what is expected to be the biggest Savannah Party (National Panorama semifinals) of all time. The competition is scheduled to begin at 9 am.