New York, USA
- In a couple of weeks one of the greatest musical contests on the North
American continent will commence. The New York exposé of the annual
steelband music competition branded as
“Panorama” all over the world, takes place on September 5th at the
Brooklyn Museum Grounds. The New York amalgamation of this Trinidad
and Tobago (the steelpan birth place) creation, is unique and full of
artistic intrigue, drama and expectations -- not to mention,
politics. In addition, the event is tracked, followed and reviewed by
tens of thousands of music lovers all over the world. The panorama enthusiasts can
be fervent, passionate and emotionally tied to all aspects of the occasion.
As in the past When Steel Talks
(WST) will again
produce our annual grades A thru Z report card of the New York steelband season.
Here’s a look back at 2008’s
Panorama Tips and Essentials
Come equipped with your own print-out of the Tunes,
Arrangers and order the bands are playing in (click
here for the WST print
version); the show producers have never provided such info. Don’t hold
your breath for that to change.
Visit the panyards
before panorama itself - you have a better appreciation for the panorama, and the music
on panorama night.
Carry a light
jacket just in case the temperature dips. There is something about panorama
night - it doesn’t matter how hot it is during the day - panorama night
temperatures are unpredictable.
Get to the panorama on time. Some
key orchestras are playing early. If you want a seat get to the panorama
extra early. Be prepared to stand, or bring your own portable chair.
Maybe there will be more chairs this year but, again, don’t count on it.
If you are on your feet and walking around, try to catch some of the
bands doing their warm ups. In a lot of ways, it is when they sound their
best. At that moment - you hear how steel orchestras are actually meant to
There is no telling what the sound system is going to do to the sound of the
orchestra on stage. More often than not - it’s not good.
This year’s competition should be a very
hotly contested one. Five past
panorama champions are vying for the 2009 title, in addition to the four other
hopeful contenders. For the first time in recent years,
bands have had time, more or less, to settle in their panyards without the annual New York
drama of hunting for a panyard. Moreover, most of the bands have chosen songs that fit their
personalities. This bodes well for quality music arrangements and
Famed arrangers Pelham Goddard of
Exodus, and Earl Rodney of Harmonites (in the ’60s & ’70s) - are also at the musical
helm of Sesame Flyers and D’Radoes respectively. Astonishingly, the three
major tunes - Bandoleros, Pan Redemption and Magic Drum are each played consecutively by at least
two bands (see the play order below). We are not sure what effect, if any, this will have
on the adjudication,
but it is an odd occurrence.
Steel Orchestras / Details
This year’s panorama will again take place
in the car park of the Brooklyn Museum - as it has for donkey years now.
The conservative estimate is that the Labor
Day carnival festivities contribute upwards of $200,000,000.00 (two hundred million dollars) to
the New York City economy. The New York Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets
have all gotten new stadiums. And the Nets will soon have a stadium
in Brooklyn. Yet there still is no performance facility that caters to the
needs and specifics of the carnival activities.
Indeed - still no
Carlos Lezama Forum for Mas,
or Rudy King Pavilion - like the world-class performing arts facility,
the Mann Center
in Philadelphia - for pan performances. In 2003 New York’s Caribbean Youth
Panoramic set a world record at the
Youth Steelband sets all-time audience attendance
record at Mann Center
For the past few years, the top prize has
been reportedly $20,000.00. It would be practical to report on exactly
what prize amounts orchestras are actually competing for, and eventually receive
depending on their placing - and also on appearance fees due the bands.
But up to now, and as has been customary in the past - official and publicized
dollar amounts for this event are not readily available. Even on the night
of the event itself and during the competition - patrons and bands alike would
be hard pressed to ever hear promoted what is at stake... What
makes this competition so different from any other?
Maybe it would be interesting to note here,
that even with a $20,000.00 “top prize,” it has in the past, cost some bands
between $60,000.00 and $80,000.00, and more - to even take the stage at
* Defending champion
Next up: New York
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