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An Insider's Review of What Inspired the Creation of Panorama

Symposium tackles the Panorama question: Is there a need to revisit the Steel Band Panorama Format?

by Desmond Chase

Desmond Chase
Desmond Chase

Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, New York - When I was asked to participate in the Symposium on Panorama on 2/17/11 having been a member of the team established by the then Prime Minister of T&T in 1961 to address the ongoing "gang-warfare" then existing amongst the Steelbands, I considered a duty to take part. The question asked "was it time to revisit the -format of Panorama. My answer was that the only element which could have been considered at the then time was to display the "Spirit of Carnival" which received significant count for the winning band.

I was heartened by the outcome of the symposium which produced two serious responses from the audience: [1} a gentleman who obviously misunderstood the chicken or the egg concept and passionately wondered why we thought that "Panorama was killing the Steelband. Like me he goes back to the period which gives birth to Panorama, [2] then there was a young man who seemed to be under the impression that in order to fully accomplish mastering of the pan, one must be a participant of Panorama. To my mind if nothing else was accomplished at this symposium, the answers to these two questions were revealing and extremely important. It is unfortunate that so many stalwarts were away at this time obviously enjoying the prelims of Panorama etc. I came away from the symposium convinced that it is indeed important to separate Panorama from the Phenomena of the only" Orchestrated Musical Instruments" invented in the 21St. Century. Please note we are not talking about a single item at this time but rather several elements which form an orchestra save from the traps.

Based on information which I received from this year's Panorama at the newly reconstructed North Stand, Panorama has now become Trinidad & Tobago biggest lime and should be so defined and marketed accordingly. Within the confines of the Savannah there were various other activities such as DJs several individual parties and real T&T bring your own food and bottle party. Nothing wrong with having a good time. Now back to the Steelband as such, this Art Form is yet to receive it's due share of the respect it rightly deserves, When Steel Talks needs to stand up as perhaps the greatest gift to the Steelband Movement, I can say without fear of contradiction that this institution has done more than successive governments of T&T. As for Pan Trinbago, they need to hold their heads in shame or step up to the plate and take charge. I need to compliment them for establishing in true Trini fashion an Archeological site without a history on the CR Highway.

Skiffle Bunch
Skiffle Bunch at Panorama

Here are a few ideas marshal the skills of all members of the Steelbands Movement, try the Sweat equity program: Build your Administrative HQ, [2] Establish a special concert hall, [3] A Museum, [4] an R&D Pan Factory, [5] Music School when completed the entire complex should be designated the Steelbands campus of the UTT.

Ellie Manette at When Steel Talks
Ellie Mannette at WST forum - photo by C. Phillips


Historical Notes by Desmond Chase

After the riot between San Juan All-stars and Desperadoes created yet another havoc on Charlotte Street, POS the then PM Dr. Williams summonsed Mr. George Yates and appointed him liaison between his office and the Steel bands to put an end of the gang warfare which was plaguing the country. This mandate resulted in the establishment of the National Association of T&T Steel bands. Headed by Mr. George Goddard and a number of other citizens amongst who were Mr. LLoyd Polonaise, Clyde Payne, Selwyn Arthur, Kenny Turner, Kathleen Gill [Secretary] George Buckles', Sam Cumberbatch.

Panorama 2011Head Quartered at the Old Immigration building, Cor. St. Vincent St. & Wrightson Rd. Pre Panorama: BOMB COMPETITION between Invaders and Despers near Globe Cinema. Both Mr. Polonaise and Sam Cumberbatch on behalf of the Association arranged to open the Competition to all bands and establishes various judging points. The PM suggested that we should travel across the country and meet with all Steel bands. The PM office assisted in obtaining Sponsorship for bands.

A meeting was held with Ms. Johnstone, a promoter of the T&T Music Festival re: participation of the bands in the Music Festival demanding better treatment and compensation. We were rejected and advised that we could have our own festival which we successfully accomplished in 1962. The first Music Festival sponsored by the Association exclusively for Steelband held at Queens Hall under that Dist. Patronage of Gov. and Lady Hochoy and adjudicated by Dr. S Northcote. We then approached the Chambers of Commerce who ran the Carnival program where they presented Ms. T&T on the Saturday night and hired small bands such as City Kids for a poultry sum of $75.00. We arranged to secure the Saturday night exclusively for the Steelbands and Panaroma was established the name was adopted by Mr. Polonaise and myself and presented to the Committee and accepted.

The question being asked at this forum "Is there need to revisit the Steelband Panorama's format". My answer is that inceptively speaking, the only format was a display of the "Spirit of Carnival".

Then as advocated since 1998, "Put the Pan on the Flag"

Desmond M. Chase

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