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Exodus Forego Canopies for 2008 Steelband Panorama Competition


Geniuses or Madmen?


News Release




Exodus on Stage for Panorama Semi Finals 2008

Trinidad - In what has to be considered one of the most major moves in recent panorama history, Exodus Steel Orchestra took the stage in the preliminary, semi final, and ultimately final rounds of the panorama competition without their standard covering canopies.  Exodus is considered by many to be one of the top five steel orchestras in the world. 

For years any debate about the removal of the canopies has been a mute point.  Only one other major orchestra has ever ventured to remove their canopies in a panorama competition.  Renegades Steel Orchestra removed theirs in 1991 with less than favorable results.  It was considered to be a major folly by the overall steelpan community.  Moreover, many feel to this day, that move cost them a championship. They came second that year.  It has never been tried since, at least by a top-notch steel orchestra - until this year.

Manager Ainsworth Mohammed said he has been meaning to make the change for years but felt that now was the opportune time to do so.  His experience in Barbados at the ceremony for the Cricket World Cup, where three hundred pannists performed, without canopies - was an astounding one, and for him pointed in the direction he believed was the right one for Exodus.

Exodus on stage without canopies
Exodus on Stage for Panorama Semi Finals 2008

It has been the accepted belief that in addition to protecting the steelpan instruments from the elements, the canopies have a profound impact on the sound quality of the orchestra.  The reaction to Exodus' move has been mixed, as some who heard the band felt it 'was weakened sound-wise without the canopies' and that any visual gains were offset by the sonic loss.

In addition to the no-canopy look, Exodus is also sporting an elevated stair-step platform setup for all its players to be seen.  New racks and stands were constructed to achieve this layout.

Exodus maintained third position throughout the competition preliminary, semi-final and finals rounds.  They were not able to close the gap between themselves and front-runners Trinidad All Stars, and this year's eventual winners Phase II Pan Groove, who both kept their canopies.  Many pan fans felt that canopy-less Exodus looked less imposing without the canopies.  They looked just like a 'large stage-side' said one panorama fan.  Many felt they lost their commanding stature without the canopies, and looked more like a guest artist band, than an orchestra out for war in panorama.  The general consensus on the When Steel Talks Message Board is that Exodus should go back to using the canopies.

Exodus on Stage for Panorama Semi Finals 2008

From a media standpoint the poles accompanying the racks were absent so the players were clearly visible and accessible to the cameras.  However, the feedback from the camera people (especially video) was mixed, as there was no real advantage given that there is just so much of an image one can pack into a finite window - particularly on using the traditional 4:3 format currently used for television.  With the advent of HD TV and wide screen computer monitors that cater to the more expansive 16:9 format, Exodus' move may play out well in the future.

The fact that there was extended rain which delayed the beginning of the panorama finals in South Trinidad, did nothing to persuade the other orchestras to eliminate their canopies in a ceiling-less arena.  Time will tell whether this  was the start of a new trend, or the final end to the canopy debate for the conceivable future.  One has to Exodus credit for trying something new and being innovative.  Stay tuned.


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