The Younger Steelpan Stars
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago - The National Junior Panorama got off to a bright and sunny start on Sunday morning. Around 10:32, the event was opened with welcome remarks and the playing of the national anthem by two young pannists. When Steel Talks was there to cover the event in pictures.
This year marks the first time that the Junior panorama was been broken into three categories, and the youngest set - Under 13: Primary Orchestras, with participants aged thirteen and under, were first up in the day's competition. They were allowed a minimum of twenty-five and a maximum of forty-five musicians.
The other two categories were Under 16: Junior Orchestras, with participants aged sixteen and under, and the Under 21: Senior Orchestras, with participants twenty-one years old and under. Minimum and maximum numbers for Under 16 and Under 21 were twenty-five to fifty, and thirty-five to sixty-five musicians respectively.
At the end of the day, the champions in the Under 13, Under 16, and Under 21 categories, respectively were - St. Margaret's Boys Anglican School, Mt. Hope Junior Secondary and St. Augustine Senior Comprehensive. Full results are detailed below.
These junior orchestras each have patron 'parent bands'; for instance, in the Under 13 category, Little Bunch from South Trinidad has as it's parent band, Skiffle Bunch; and one of the rules of competition was the junior orchestras would not perform the same selection that their parent band was competing with in the 2006 national panorama competition. Duration of arrangement for the junior panorama was six minutes with a thirty-second grace period if they went over that limit. A minimum playing time of five minutes was in effect.
According to the media kit provided by Pan Trinbago, the panel of judges for both the Under 13 and Under 16 phases included resident arranger for Tobago's Redemption Sound Setters - Winston Gordon; arranger for Skiffle Bunch and Assistant Professor of Music at Northern Illinois University, Liam Teague; Derrick Nurse, arranger/conductor of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Festival Steel Orchestra; Gary Straker, arranger of Pan Fanatics; Roland Joseph, arranger for Kalomo Kings; and Vernon Dennis, arranger for Tobago's' Buccooneers Steel Orchestra.
For the senior orchestras (Under 21), judges were Michelle Huggins-Watts, arranger for Valley Harps; Seion Gomez, second year Master's candidate at Northern Illinois University and arranger for Merrytones Steel Orchestra; Duvonne Stewart, arranger for LH Pan Groove; Earl Brooks, Sr., arranger for Hatters Steel Orchestra; Reynold Huggins, arranger for Panatics Steel Orchestra; and Yohan Popwell, arranger for Sforzata Steel Orchestra.
For the Junior National Panorama which was free to the general public the North Stand was not in use, and the hundreds of onlookers in the Grand Stand were made up primarily of youthful supporters of the miscellaneous schools who took part in the event, parents, family, friends, and others.
The Under 13 category concluded their appearances shortly after noon, with the Under 16's lined up in the distance on the eastern side of the stage known as 'the drag.' The Minister of Education Hazel Manning, (pictured below during delivery) appeared on stage and addressed the audience for a few minutes, again welcoming all and included in her delivery mention of the late master musician Clive Bradley - who passed away in November 2005 - as teacher, mentor, composer and maestro. Pan Trinbago has dedicated the entire 2006 Panorama season to the memory of the late musical master.
The audience was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the Ministry of Education Steel Orchestra (MOESO) - captained by Junior Howell and formed just seven days prior to their appearance on stage. About 12:40 PM MOESO began its presentation which included a medley of well-known nursery rhymes. What delighted the audience most was the participation of the Minister of Education herself, complete with music stand, at the front of the band.
The Under 16 phase then began shortly before one in the afternoon, and ended about 1:30 with the appearance of the Sangre Grande Junior Secondary Steel Orchestra. Following a brief changeover of adjudicators, the senior orchestras took the stage, with Renegades Steel Orchestra finishing up around 4:45 PM. Brief entertainment followed, with results given out not too long after.
Looking at the exuberance of the supporters and the skill of many of the young pannists, it can be said that the only tangible difference between the Junior event and the major panorama, is just that - two separate events. From the looks of ecstasy on the faces of some young players, to the dexterity of others as they executed their runs on the various voices of instruments, to those nuances in some arrangements that made one pause, and say - damn! - to the determined passion and vehemence of their off-stage supporters; sometimes it was hard to remember that this was only the 'junior' panorama. After all, some of these same youngsters play in their parent or other bands, and even outshine some of their older peers. Whatever is in store for the culture of steelpan in Trinidad and Tobago, if it is left up to the pannists who participate annually in the junior panorama, the rest of the world must remain on notice.
C. Phillips, Basement
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