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N.Y.P.D. = New York Pan Destruction

New York, USA - After reading Pantonic captain, Wayne Bernard’s, post about this topic, I felt the need to address the same issue. It’s no secret that the majority of the Brooklyn pan scene is comprised of young adults and teenagers who anxiously wait for the Saturday before Labor Day in the hopes of winning Panorama. We spend all of our summer nights in panyards and racks, instead of parties and BBQs, to ensure victory in competition; that is, when we get the chance to. It’s sad that the NYPD (New York Police Department) and certain Brooklynites cannot see things this way.

Most of us young panists use pan as a way OUT of the stereotypes that other young adults have already fallen prey to: gang-banging, drug dealing, etc. During the 2013 summer, Pan Sonatas did a recording with When Steel Talks—to the delight of many supporters—and only one hour after (10:45), we were rudely shut down by the NYPD police officers even after producing permits allowing us to practice until 11:30 p.m. Subsequently, Pan Sonatas continued to be shut down by the police almost every night afterwards, including the night before Panorama.

Sonatas Steel Orchestra during their recording session on August 28, 2013
Sonatas Steel Orchestra during their recording session on August 28, eighty minutes before NYPD shutdown

This madness has become a hindrance for far too long. Steel orchestras are filled with high school students, college students, college graduates, panists with Masters Degrees, teachers - and even college professors; and we are being treated as if we’re uneducated menaces to society. The same people who would stop and stare in wonder as to what this instrument is and would tap notes with their fingers to attempt to understand the sound, are now the same individuals interrupting our Panorama rehearsals across Brooklyn.

It’s upsetting that even when young people are trying to do something productive for the summer, as well as, do something positive for their respective communities, people would rather put a stop to it. However, when there’s a strong stench of weed permeating the entire block, no one thinks to warn the police. When gunshots are heard in the night sky, rarely will a concerned citizen think to call the police. But young adults, who are actually doing something productive, don’t let them hear that C# or you’ll see the end of band practice.

Sonatas Steel Orchestra on stage at the 2013 WIADCA-organized annual New York Panorama.  The ten-time New York Panorama champions would go on to place second in this year
Sonatas Steel Orchestra on stage at the 2013 WIADCA-organized annual New York Panorama.  The ten-time New York Panorama champions would go on to place second.

WIADCA (West Indian American Day Carnival Association) …Steelbands’ Organizations…can you please do something to help us, and commend these young adults for giving up their summer vacations to tirelessly practice day and night? Start providing safe spaces for bands to practice where we would not have to worry about having the police shut us down. Provide legal support and/or contracts to help bands have a sufficient amount of practice time; not only for Panorama, but also for these bands’ respective stage sides. If these suggestions are already put into motion, please give the pan world an update. Being left in the dark is not beneficial to anyone, especially the players who have no faith in the current pan world. We’re fighting a 21st century battle with sticks and stones and it’s time to get into the new millennium.

Mark G. Garceran
Co-Stageside Arranger
Pan Sonatas Inc.

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Related article: - New York Steel Orchestras Catching Hell Three Days Before Panorama 2013

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