Ebony, Eclipse and Jenny Gilberg Victorious at Pan Explosion 2K8

BASFDF 9th Annual Pan Explosion

WST World News Division


Eclipse Ensemble

United Kingdom -  The BASFDF 9th annual Pan Explosion held at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon, Surrey on Saturday the 31st May 2008 was certainly blessed with lots of warm weather coupled with a high standard of steelband music. Pannists as young as seven (7) competed against their older counterparts for the Ensembles title. The overall winner on the night was steelband music as the versatility of the instrument and dexterity of its players certainly treated the audience to a musical explosion of steelpan music.

Before the start of the event, CSI Community steelband hosted a typical Trinidadian style jam session in the car park with bottles and spoons, scratchers and any other paraphernalia that created some percussive rhythm. World renowned steelpan manufacturer/tuner, Dudley Dickson, along with Tubbs, Chato, Brent Holder, Jason Constantine and lots more had a very hectic free styling jam session setting an electric atmosphere for the start of the event.

Harlow Steel Band

Pan Explosion is about the promotion of excellence. In its simplest form it is the commissioning of new music and the promotion of the UK’s steel pan virtuosos and this year’s competition featured musicians from across the UK. Its secondary role is to provide the emerging and future leaders of the UK’s steel band movement, BASFDF, a platform from which they can enhance and develop their management skills and share with the wider steel pan community their vision for the future of the instrument not only in the UK but also in Europe and beyond.

Guest artistes were Harlow steelband and soloists, Dan Sadler and Kyron Akal. Whilst the judges on the night were Tamara Arom-Hobbs, Debby Romain and Dan Sadler who was replaced by Chris Storey for the Over 25 Ensembles competition owing to illness. After the event yet another ‘liming session’ ensued by hard core ‘Limers’ who did not want the evening to end. Everyone is now looking forward to the 10th Pan Explosion in 2009.

BAS Executive Officers and members of the Association extended their thanks to all guest artistes and competitors for the time and energy they spent preparing for the event, as well as BAS partners, Carnival Village and Fairfield Halls for their support and most particularly, to the audience.

Croydon Steel Orchestra

Ensembles Under 25
Contrast Steelband - consists of roughly 20 players ranging in age from 13 to 40+. They were formed in 1974 by Cy Jacques who has now retired and emigrated back home to St Kitts & Nevis leaving management of the band in the capable hands of Pat Munroe. Pat is keeping up the legacy of Cy and the band is growing from strength to strength. The musicians performing at Pan Explosion are some of the younger members of Contrast. Although new to Pan Explosion, the band is not new to competition having played at the National Panorama with other BAS members – most recently, Real Steel. Contrast is looking forward to participating in this and future events.

Croydon Steel Orchestra - This is Croydon’s fourth time taking part in Pan Explosion and the third time for Kerrie, Annie and Leanne. For the other members, this is their first time entering except Charlotte who also participated in two rounds of ‘Pan Clash’ last year. The band has been busy gigging and fund raising for their new mini bus which they have just bought. They are also working hard towards their sixth entry in the National Panorama competition. Croydon promotes pan as a style of music and the steel band as a family of instruments in their own right. They also aim to promote the tuition of steel bands in schools enabling as many children as possible the opportunity to learn the art of playing.

Ebony Steelband - This band of under 25 year olds have been together for three years and have come a long way since their novice beginnings. This is the first time these musicians have entered Pan Explosion and are already looking forward to many more.

Ebony Steelband Protegez - ‘Protegez’ was set up in 2008. Tutors Candice (23) and Joelle (19) teach the band once a week. All performers are under the age of 14 and this is only their third ever performance. For both the band and the arranger, this is their first competition. Protegez are working hard to live up to the example and musical talent of Ebony Steelband and look forward to participating in the National Panorama and Notting Hill Carnival in future years.

Ebony Steelband – 490
Contrast Steelband – 456
Ebony Steelband Protegez – 382
Croydon Steel Orchestra – 373



CSI Community Group

Ensembles Over 25
CSI Community Group - Caribbean Steel International (CSI) Community group, lead by Brent Holder, is a voluntary run steel band based in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. Their aim is to give the public the opportunity of learning about and how to play the steel pan instrument. In addition to running classes twice a week for ages 8 - adult and taking part in competitions, CSI also reaches out into the wider community and conducts workshops in schools and other institutions. The group started in November 2007 and this is their first ever competition!

Eclipse Steelband - Formed in 1980 and was led by Dennis Osbourne, today Mark ‘Tyson’ Williams is the leader of the band and his musical arrangements has seen them capture second place in the 2007 BAS/CAPCA Junior Panorama competition. They have also performed at the 2007 BAS Trafalgar Square Jamboree.

Eclipse Steel Orchestra – 534
CSI Community Group - 498



Jenny Gilberg

Charlotte Benson - Croydon Steel Orchestra
Charlotte has been playing pan for six years. She started on Double Seconds then moved briefly to Double Guitar and Bass before settling on Tenor. As well as performing with Croydon Steel Orchestra, Charlotte also performs with her school band and is currently taking GCSE Music on pan. Her ambition is to be a Music Teacher. This piece was inspired by spring time, hence the name. Other influences are Destra Garcia, Chris Brown and Evanescence. Charlotte competed in two rounds of Pan Clash last year.

Jenny Gilberg - North Tyneside Steel Band, Newcastle - Jenny has been playing pan for just over eight years. She is a member of North Tyneside Steel Band and also plays with the North East of England regional band, Volcano. In 2006 and 2007 Jenny performed at the National Panorama competition with Stardust Steel Orchestra. Jenny is currently studying fine art at Northumbria University and in her spare time works as a pan tutor teaching three local school bands.

Jenny Gilberg – 245
Charlotte Benson – 183



 Pan Explosion 2008 in Pictures

 Pan Explosion 2008 in Pictures

Tamara Arom-Hobbs - has a background in Classical music. She discovered her love for the steel pan whilst studying with Dexter Joseph and taking part in the UK National Panorama at the age of 15. She went on to gain a degree in Ethnomusicology at City University and now teaches World music, including steel pan, to young musicians across London.

Debby Romain first learnt to play pan at the age of 9. In 1994, she became the first British female Band Leader/Arranger to compete in the UK National Panorama. Between 1999 and 2007 she was part of Mangrove Steel Band’s education programme. During this period she was also the Arranger for Mangrove’s Junior Band achieving seven consecutive Junior Panorama titles and numerous TV and other appearances including BBC, ITV & Disney Channel, requested performances for the Dioceses of Trinidad and Tobago. Mangrove was runners up in 2006 BAS Pan Explosion Competition. Debby is currently the Arranger for Stardust Steel Orchestra.

Guest Band
Harlow Steel Band was established in 2003 as a community drop-in activity for children and adults supported by Harlow Council, Ebony Steelband and Essex Youth Service. Within a short space of time this was transformed into a practicing band for 9-21 year olds. The band’s performances include an annual concert at Harlow’s Black History Showcase, the Essex Youth Games in Southend, the local Town Show, and Harlow Summer Carnival. The founding objectives of the band were that all its activities should be free and should welcome a diverse mix of young people. These principles still apply and form the basis of the band’s development.

Guest Soloists


Kyron Akal

Kyron Akal is an ardent supporter, competitor, champion soloist, arranger and judge at Pan Explosion. He has been involved in music from a very tender age and has captured the coveted title of ‘Champion Arranger’ with the Mangrove Steel Band at the National Panorama in 2004 making the first UK born arranger to gain the title. As well as his affiliation to Mangrove, Kyron plays with and arranges for Metronomes Steel Orchestra and is a regular artist at the Engine Room Collective jazz nights held monthly at the Inn on the Green in Ladbroke Grove. He currently teaches steel pan at numerous schools and work shops throughout London.

Dan Sadler currently plays and arranges musical pieces for Sounds of Steel – Portsmouth. His musical journey with the steelpan has seen him perform with Ebony and was one of the selected pannists representing the UK National Steelband that played for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2002. He is very active in the Hampshire steel band festivals where he runs daytime workshops. Dan has been an avid competitor in Pan Explosion competing in both the soloists and ensemble sections. Dan has recently returned from a tour of South Africa.


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By Robbie Joseph

E-mail: panpodium@aol.com  or robbie@panpodium.com


More on steelbands of the United Kingdom

All pictures by Robbie Joseph


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