Panorama Gold

Sforzata Steel Orchestra

2019 Tune of choice:  Ah Feeling  | arranger:  Arthur “Bolo” Peters

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The Sforzata Steelband Orchestra was created on 29 July 1975 by arranger Merlin "Mutt" Gill and Irvin Burgess who had departed the nearby Scherzando Steel Orchestra.   The word “sforzata” is a musical term of Italian origin meaning reinforced or strongly accented, in reference to the way in which a note or chord can be played.

Early years

Early on, Sforzata gained financial support from the National Brewery in the sum of TTD $8,000.00. For this assistance, the band adopted the name Mackeson Sforzata for a short period of time. Sforzata also became quite popular in the community but failed to gain the mammoth following which Scherzando had once commanded. Part of the reason for this had to do with its location and composition. The panyard site was at the corner of Warren Street and the Eastern Main Road, Saint Augustine. However, the band drew the majority of its membership and strength of its support from outside the area - as far as Arouca, Arima and Santa Cruz. For this reason, it was decided to remove the city name "Curepe" from the band's title, in contrast to its predecessor, which is still known as Curepe Scherzando. In 1984 Sforzata was evicted from its panyard and forced to take up residence on a vacant lot near the Priority Bus Route. New support from the area at this time was encouraged not only by the band's success at national competitions, but also reportedly by other negative issues surrounding Scherzando.

Music Competition

In the 1976 Panorama, Sforzata placed third in the Eastern Zonal Finals and made it as far as the National Semi-Finals. In the same year, sixteen members of the band toured Miami and played at the bicentennial celebration of American Independence. The band managed to make it to the finals in 1978 but placed last with their rendition of Lord Kitchener's Pan in the 21st Century. Surrounded by a variety of musical styles, the band won the Bomb competition with the folk song Mango and continued to be in winner’s row for the next three years.

Sforzata’s track record at Panorama prompted it to be labelled ‘the Sunshine Band’ by pan aficionados. The orchestra was continuously plagued by failure on the final night of the Panorama Competition despite performing well in preliminary rounds. This affected the band’s players, and the band gradually shrunk. In an attempt to reverse this trend, the band's arranger Merlin "Mutt" Gill sponsored the band in 1985, but even this had little effect. The waning of the orchestra’s support indicated the fickle nature of its fans, demonstrating the way in which bands are valued on their competitive successes.

With the establishment of the medium band category in 2004, Sforzata quickly reinvented itself as one of the giants in the steelpan world. In 2005, the band took a risk on an up-and-coming arranger, Yohan Popwell. With a fresh arranger, the band swept the preliminary, semifinal, and final rounds in 2005 for their first ever Panorama victory with Shadow’s tune, ‘Dingolay.’ They successfully defended their title in 2006 playing Baron's ‘This Melody Sweet.’ In 2007 and 2008 the band placed 3rd in the Panorama finals.

Songs and Placement

Sforzata in the Medium Category of the national Panorama competition:






War 2004

Merlin Gill




Yohan Popwell

1st place


This Melody Sweet

Yohan Popwell

1st place


Calypso Music

Yohan Popwell

3rd place


Thunder Coming

Yohan Popwell

3rd place



Yohan Popwell

1st place

submitted by Mazzini Gill

Panorama Performance

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