Global - Playing Amrit Samaroo’s arrangement of De Fosto’s “In De Minor” turned into a ‘major’ success for Supernovas Steel Orchestra based in East Trinidad. The orchestra led the pack through the preliminaries and out of the semi-finals, culminating in their victory announced just before 3:30 a.m. local time on Carnival Friday morning in Trinidad & Tobago. Amrit Samaroo is already a champion arranger in his own right, leading St. Lucia’s Pantime Steel Orchestra to Pan supremacy in that country’s 2013 Panorama. The 2014 Panorama championship title is the first for him in the main steelband competition arena in his homeland of Trinidad & Tobago; Samaroo is the son of the legendary Dr. Jit Samaroo of Renegades Steel Orchestra. A first prize of TT $400,000 (circa USD $62,670) plus challenge trophies were the rewards for the season’s hard work.
Coming in fourth overall after reaching only as high as third place in the preliminaries and semifinals, was 2013 winner Arima Golden Symphony Steel Orchestra. The band had been working hard to snag an unprecedented sixth consecutive title. Arima Golden Symphony went with “In De Minor,” the same tune of choice as Supernovas.
The first band in the finals of the small steel orchestra category—Fascinators Pan Symphony—came before the Skinner Park audience and kicked things off in their classification at 11:26 p.m. The small steel orchestras were preceded by sixteen Single Pan Bands in their final-night appearance. As orchestras followed one after the other, at times it appeared to be “open-mic night” - as that was indeed the case. The ‘mic’ was open while the bands performed, so listeners could hear the ongoing background conversations of the radio broadcast team. This was especially true with Fascinators Pan Symphony – throughout their entire piece– even as far as doing “mic-checks.” “Woe” to the ‘technical’ aspects of this broadcast team!
The small steel orchestra competition was not without controversy. When band number eight, Siparia Deltones, took the stage - its visually imposing size appeared to belie the category’s limit; rules confine players to sixty, with a minimum of thirty-five. After heated ‘discussions,’ publicly seen and overheard - at 1:55 a.m., without having struck a note, Siparia Deltones players were walking off the stage, after an impromptu meeting possibly stemming from what appeared to be the performers beyond that 60-player maximum. About six minutes later, players re-appeared and the orchestra began to play, to the delight of the crowd. Cheers and applause during the performance surely made it all worthwhile, those minutes on stage, at least from the vantage point of the players. They were youthful, and vocally chorused during and punctuated points of, their steelband performance, which was combined with a visual presentation that saturated the senses of onlookers.
After that occurrence, the penultimate band and eventual winners Supernovas Steel Orchestra got going at 2:21 a.m. They would go on to deliver a superb performance of Amrit Samaroo’s vision of “In De Minor.” Their appearance seemed to have been breathlessly awaited by many; Supernovas did not disappoint, with the crowd roaring their approval at the end. The final band for the show, Moods Steel Orchestra went ‘vintage,’ playing Ken “Professor” Philmore’s arrangement of Ronnie McIntosh’s 1989 hit “Shakin’ It,’ sounding their last notes at 2:50 a.m. After a short break, by 3:27 a.m. results for both the Single Pan Band and Small Steel Orchestra competitions were announced.
The unfortunate debacle with Siparia Deltones affected what turned out to be their first-runner-up position, as Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz made a public announcement referencing the issue just before the results were revealed. He advised that any position (and by default, winnings) allotted Siparia Deltones Steel Orchestra, would be subject to an investigation to be conducted by the Panorama Management Committee. This appears to imply that there could perhaps be changes in the overall final outcome of this competition.
Going into the competition, prizes allocated for the 1st and 2nd runners-up were TT $350,000 and TT $300,000 respectively. Competitors who placed fourth, fifth and sixth took away TT $250,000, TT $200,000 and TT $150,000 in that order. Those in positions seven through ten were awarded TT $100,000 each.
After what was in some cases, months of preparation and practice, and an initial field of forty-nine small steel orchestras in the preliminary phase, ten steel orchestras faced a panel of judges on final night. Joanne Ragbir, Richard Pierre, Junior Howell, Joslynne Sealey, Sherry-Ann Saunders and Marceline Peters, all considered bands’ performances under the set criteria.