Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, W.I. - St. Lucia’s 2012 National Panorama saw steel orchestras competing in the large band category and in the small category. After five hours of intense music competition, defending title-holders large band Babonneau Steel Orchestra, triumphed - keeping firm hold on the title of St. Lucia Panorama champs for another year. Hailing from the same village (Babonneau) in St. Lucia as the large category winners (Babonneau Steel Orchestra) Harmonites Steel Orchestra also delivered a repeat, and emerged winners once more in the small band category. The task of determining musical supremacy fell to five judges, three from Trinidad (including Reynolds Higgings and Ezra Joseph) and two from St. Lucia, one of whom was Tony Wilkinson.
A total of ten bands took the stage at the Beausejour Cricket Grounds for the 2012 National Panorama competition, with five of those matching musical wits in their battle for the top spot in the small band category. The use of ‘categories’ was first introduced in 2011. The annual Panorama was first hosted at the cricket grounds in 2007.
Eventual large band 1st-runners up [again] Pantime Steel Orchestra, led by arranger Amrit Samaroo, came bounding out of the musical gate at 11:10 p.m. after competition in the small category wrapped up. The seventy-four musician-strong band set the bar very high for their four challengers to meet, including defending champions Babonneau Steel Orchestra. Pantime’s players sang lustily through several parts of their performance, delivering a finish that had the crowd erupting in sustained and wild cheering at the end. The band first went to Panorama back in 2001, but has never won the title.
For the large category, six orchestras were originally advertised, but Emerald Steel pulled out reportedly earlier on the same day of the competition, with unconfirmed reports placing the proclaimed issue of sponsorship funding at the root of that move, supposedly with said sponsor, however, rebuffing that being a possible cause.
Diamond Steel, the orchestra with the most steelband Panorama titles in St. Lucia—seven in total including a three-peat—closed off the large category round of competition at 1:28 a.m. playing “Pan Fuh So” with a complement of sixty members. Diamond Steel last claimed the Panorama championship title in 2008; this year they once again had to settle for third place. In fact, the top three results in this category mirrored those of 2011. Results for 2012 are below.
This year saw the return of fan-favorite North Stars Steel Orchestra, participating after staying away from the 2011 competition (there were full Panorama boycotts in 2009 and 2010) - an absence, band management says, due to non-payment of their 2008 prize purse, and which, they say, they still have not received to date. But because fans and young players in the orchestra alike called for the band’s performance in Panorama, the band came out for 2012. North Stars last captured the Panorama championship in 2007.
Incidentally, at the scheduled show time of 8:00 p.m. the stands were empty with no audience present to appreciate and support the bands’ performances. Rather than subjecting panists to perform after their months of hard work to empty stands, event and steelband official Julian Calderon delayed the start by thirty minutes. Chatting with the radio broadcast team of Radio St. Lucia after the show, Calderon also spoke about the plan for a raise in prize payout from EC $40,000 to EC $50,000 in the large category, and from EC $20,000 to EC $25,000 in the small band arena. At the same time, he lamented the lack of steelband activities, concerts and the like, after the annual Panorama season, speaking of going by panyards after the carnival ended, and seeing steelpan instruments packed on shelves, collecting dust - until the next season.
Calderon also took time to share with listeners the reasoning, in part, of the elimination of the extremely popular “warm-up tradition.” Here the steel orchestras played a brief but rousing and sometimes ‘pore-raising piece’ (just check Babonneau’s “Glo CoCo” in 2011!) circa three minutes long, usually an up-tempo, party-favorite, just before their Panorama selection. It came down to time management, he explained. With ten (originally eleven) steel orchestras on tap to participate in Panorama 2012, Julian Calderon estimated that the show would go beyond six hours, with just their Panorama selections.
As it was, results for the top three bands in each category were delivered a couple minutes or so after 2:00 a.m., complete with closing images (for those who stayed put that long), of a humble but satisfied and victorious arranger Alison Marquis being exuberantly hoisted on the shoulders of band members and carried out onto the cricket ground. No doubt, in the village of Babonneau, celebrations would continue for days, especially with the double-win of both their steel orchestras for a successive year!
|LARGE BAND CATEGORY
|Selection / Performer
|Babonneau Steel Orchestra
|Never Say Never / Menell
|Pantime Steel Orchestra
|Pan Fuh So
| Aimran Simmonds
|Assumption Youth Knights in Action
|North Stars Steel Orchestra
|SMALL BAND CATEGORY
|Selection / Performer
|Harmonites Steel Orchestra
|St. Lucy’s Steel Orchestra
|Pan Exodus Steel Orchestra
|New Generation Steel Orchestra
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