Trinidad and Tobago, W.I. - And shortly after 4:00 a.m. local time on Carnival Sunday, pan music lovers all over the world knew just where their favorite bands in medium and/or large conventional steel orchestra categories stood - like it or not. With a start sometime after 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, the final stage for both the medium and large conventional steel orchestras had come alive as first eleven medium, then ten large bands gave the titles their best musical shots.
For Trinidad All Stars and arranger Leon “Smooth” Edwards, it was sweet triumph as the band that calls Duke Street, Port-of-Spain home fulfilled their 2015 mandate, that is, to put the brakes on the 2014 champs Phase II Pan Groove as the latter tried in vain for a third consecutive Panorama title. And it is not the first time; Trinidad All Stars also kept Phase II in check back in 2007 when the latter with arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe also tried for three titles in a row, having won in 2005 and 2006.
Both bands went with original compositions for the 2015 Panorama competition. In Phase II's case, it was Happiness penned by “Boogsie” with Nigel Rojas’ lyrics voiced by Olatunji Yearwood. Veteran All Stars member Clive Telemaque—composer, panist and arranger in his own right—wrote Unquestionable with his home orchestra in mind.
Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra left the Queen’s Savannah in obvious ecstasy, with six more points than Phase II Pan Groove, 289 versus 283, and also one million TT dollars (circa USD $157,327.00) richer; Phase II had to settle for the TT$700,000.00 (circa USD $110,000.00) second prize. Exodus, Renegades and Silver Stars steel orchestras tied for third place each with final scores of 279. In fact to the consternation of many pan fans, the last several years have featured ‘tied’ final positions, with some even going so far as to characterize the judges as ‘lazy.’ Invaders Steel Orchestra which eventually placed seventh was the final competitor within the large steel orchestras, and they struck their final notes around 3:50 a.m. with the results coming in within twenty minutes.
Allowed a maximum of ninety steelpan musicians in the medium category, three steel orchestras from the sister isle of Tobago joined seven others from Trinidad to give defending champs Pan Elders—who returned with arranger Duvone Stewart—‘a run for their money.’ But at the end, Pan Elders—in the lead from the preliminaries as in 2014, and this time around performing Rainorama by Lord Kitchener—repeated their winning ways in 2015. And the same was true for Buccooneers which held on to the second place for another year. They played a Seion Gomez-arrangement of Party Time by “Bally.”
Prizes for first, second and third places in the medium category were TT$600,000.00, TT$550,000.00 and TT$500,000.00, respectively. Steel Xplosion (2015 Tobago Panorama champs) ran third, playing the Mighty Sparrow’s classic Du Du Yemi arranged by Arddin Herbert.
The medium bands indulged in what could be termed a ‘RETRO Rama,’ with ten of the eleven bands going with tunes from years gone by, as far back as 1973 (Buccooneers with ‘Rainorama’). Only Valley Harps were in step with the times—the 21st century—playing 2015’s Outta De Box - a song which actually notes the tendency of bands to go back-in-time for selections - something made allowable under the Patrick Arnold-tenure in Pan Trinbago.
The reverse was true with the large steel orchestras. Nine out of the ten chose 2015-material. Only Invaders went ‘retro’ with This Melody Sweet. Invaders however have played original content composed by their arranger in previous years.
So for another year, tongues will wag as various opinions are voiced and judgments are passed on the results. And the Grand Stand and North Stand will remain at the ready for the 2016 musical war for Steel Orchestras called: Panorama.
Full results is at the following link: -