This year's New York Panorama promoter - W.I.A.D.C.A. (West Indian-American Day Carnival Association) - claims that this will be the best New York Panorama ever... This will be indeed a significant step forward for the pan movement should they succeed...
Well - unarguably the best New York Panorama ever (to date) was held at the Thomas Jefferson High School Athletic Complex in Brooklyn on September 1, 2001 by the United States Steelband Association (USSA), and no other Panorama has ever come close. And we've seen them all.
It was a dark, cold and windy September 2001 night - out in the middle of nowhere, yet the end result was one of the most memorable nights in Steelpan history. The New York Times reported that there was a crowd of between eight and ten thousand in attendance (and there was room for twice as many).
For years New York panoramas have been plagued with bad judging, gruesome sound quality, too-small stages to accommodate entire steel orchestras as they performed, and no professional recordings or videos that captured the enormous effort and beauty put forth by the pan artists. Not to mention inadequate financial compensation in prize money to even come close to the total financial outlay by the steelbands.
Somehow USSA was able to deal with the majority of these issues in it's 2001 Panorama (there were two panoramas that year).
By general consensus, there was fair judging, no appearance of dirty tricks...
There was a large designated 'staging' or warm-up area that was the size of an Olympic track (actually it was an Olympic-size track!). It was indeed a magnificent sight to see all twelve competing steelbands fully set up, line up in order of appearance before they performed, and eventually warm-up without disturbing bands who were on stage at the time.
The sturdy stage accommodated the largest band comfortably, with lots of space to spare on either side, in front and in the back. There was a backdrop behind the bands at the rear of the stage which contained the sound and ensured that the pan music was not 'lost', but reflected forward to the audience.
Once the Panorama began, the bands rolled up on one side of the stage and off on the other, unimpeded, in a timeframe that seemed little more than their actual 10-minute on-stage performance. It all flowed from Showtime which began at 8:30 PM with two guest steelbands, and ended promptly at 2:00 AM on Sunday morning.
The sound was excellent. Each band got 'personal care'. For the first time both the artists and audience were shown the consideration and respect that they should expect to receive at a professional show. They were not subjected to the noise and total distortion of the musical performances and sonic intricacies put forth by the tuners and arrangers.
It is criminal for a band to spend tens of thousands of dollars in instrument purchases, tuning, music arranger fees and housing to output the best sonic product possible only to have it butchered by sound reinforcement organizations as in the past years. In the year 2003 this will be unacceptable.
Both the large and smaller bands received equal treatment in terms of clarity. The intricate details that music arrangers and pan players worked on for over two months, were heard. And for once there was no need to apologize to a newcomer (those who had never attended a Panorama) or invited guest, as to why the arrangements in place for the sound system, made the steelpans sound like garbage cans...
I hope the Statute of Limitations for convicting past New York Panorama Sound Engineers has not expired, because their workmanship has been downright horrific, and can be rightly termed criminal activities and 'audio offenses'.
This judgment of the sound quality comes from the very panorama patrons themselves.
One of the greatest accomplishments/outcomes of the 2001 panorama was the production of the USSA Panorama 2001 CD and DVD of the event. The audio CD set a new standard for panorama recordings globally and was described by the greatest-ever drummer - the Legendary Max Roach as "A must for any pan lover - the best steelband recordings ever". If you can get your hands on a copy it is strongly recommended that you do so and hold on to it. It speaks for itself.
In spite of inadequate electrical power that curtailed the lighting of the stage the video crew was able to produce a video/DVD that is strictly awesome. It captured the sprit and beauty of the steelbands. Click here to see web version of 2001 performances. And if you think this looks good on the web imagine what the DVD looks like...
Proof and point and the importance of capturing an event - is that we can talk about the 2001 panorama because it was so magnificently captured and documented.
The New York Panorama is one of the greatest annual musical events in this country. The steelpan artists and management look forward all year to deliver a ten-minute performance. Young people practice nightly into the wee hours of the morning for two months. Each band's ten-minute Panorama performance embodies the blood, sweat, frustration and tears of generations of panmen...
The audience will be there for the 2003 Panorama. And they deserve the best panorama ever. They will be paying for, and should be treated to - a professional show equal to that of one put on by the New York Knicks or Luther Vandross.
The artists - pan men and women
- will be there. They will
deliver a great show as they always do... they put on Grammy, Oscar, Tony
and Emmy-award winning performances all in one, because at a Panorama there
is music, drama, acting. Pannists are costumed, pan stands are
decorated, and at times there are supporting skits.
Since the panmen themselves have already put on the best Panorama to date in 2001 - without sponsorship of any kind - it should be easy for the promoter of this year's Panorama to surpass 2001's achievements. They have already said that 2003 will be the best New York Panorama ever.
Can this year's promoter meet the challenge of matching and surpassing standards set by the panmen themselves in 2001? Should the promoter succeed they will propel New York's Pan scene and the art form to even greater heights...
So at the end of Panorama 2003, we anticipate that there will again be lots of happy smiling pan men and women, lots of happy pan fans. And 2003 Panorama music and visuals for us to enjoy throughout the years...
It would be nice to have available for panorama attendees, a Program for the show listing the bands, selections, arrangers, etc.- as was the case for the USSA 2001 Panorama.
...and additionally - personal Score Cards for Panorama patrons (would-be armchair judges!) would be a nice touch...
Let's see - hmmm - what else? VIP seating area, luxury 'Box Seats', etc. (just joking...)
Let us hear your views
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