Kingstown, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, W.I. - History was again made when Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra kept their national Panorama title for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year at Victoria Park in the country’s capital of Kingstown. Though there was a bit of rain at one point during the competition, there was no raining on the parade of Sion Hill Euphonium when they took the stage as the second largest steel orchestra of the evening.
With sixty-five musicians playing Ron Pompey’s Ah Bussing It as arranged by Seion Gomez, the champion steel orchestra struck their first notes at precisely 10:00 p.m. on Carnival Thursday in St. Vincent & The Grenadines. They played in position five and performed with a conductor, unlike the four competitors preceding them. Ten minutes later when they ended their title defense, the crowd roared and bestowed tumultuous applause upon Sion Hill Euphonium in appreciation.
“Steel and Glitter” as the event was called encompassed both the annual steelband panorama and Carnival mas band showcase. Potential Steel Orchestra, the first of eight bands kicked off the competition at 8:24 p.m. Not as large as in years past, the band fielded thirty-seven players as they unveiled the Johnny “JP” Pompey-arranged Loving Can’t Done by Touch. Potential Steel Orchestra won the Panorama back in 1994.
Georgetown All Stars, formed out of the country’s well-known Pan Against Crime program followed Potential at 8:44 p.m., also with a small complement. Thirty players delivered Alston “Becket” Cyrus’ No Screw arranged by Tillal Webb.
Starlift Steel Orchestra, usually the main challenger to Sion Hill Euphonium, and which placed second in 2013, were third up for the night with fifty-one players (smaller than their 2013 seventy-two-player-strong band). This year Starlift would have to settle for third position in the competition with their rendition of arranger Rikky Andre Robley’s version of Carnival Time, when they completed their approximately nine-minute performance at 9:19 p.m. Once again, legendary pan tuner Bertram “Birch” Kelman was responsible for the sound of the band.
Like Starlift Steel Orchestra before them which played—and eventually placed—third, so too did Symphonix Steel Orchestra which came fourth overall in the Panorama. And it was Jomoro Francis’ arrangement of Winston Soso’s Ah Don’t Care and their execution of the piece - that secured Symphonix’s forty players attired in red, blue and green with gold stripes - that spot. Symphonix is also one of the bands coming out of the Pan Against Crime initiative.
One of the bands that competed days before in the 2014 Junior Pan Fest, Genesis Steel Orchestra, decided to throw their hat in the ring of the country’s senior Panorama. Playing in position six at 10:24 p.m., Genesis opted for Party Fever by Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas as arranged by Delano Bristol.
The penultimate competitor in the Panorama South East Steel Orchestra, has been a band on a mission since their formation only six years ago. Proud musical director Marla Nanton said their practice for the 2014 Panorama competition started back in April. Their diligence paid off. Starting their ‘count’ at 10:41 p.m. and returning with Trinidad & Tobago arranger Barry Mannette, and Ooh La La by Alston “Becket” Cyrus as their tune of choice, South East clinched second place this year, moving up from third position one year ago. Also of note and history-making in its own right, is the fact that a ‘young’ band emanating from Pan Against Crime—South East—‘bested’ a ‘legacy’ steel orchestra—Starlift, winner of nineteen Panorama championships—which was relegated to third place this year.
South East Steel Orchestra was the largest for the night with seventy panists, augmented in part by members from Mannette’s NIU (Northern Illinois University) affiliation et al, and a few also from Trinidad. Dressed in gold, red and blue, South East’s big sound and performance was one of the crowd-favorites, as evidenced by the very loud cheers and applause punctuating the end of their presentation.
Working with a system of a maximum 40 points for Arrangement, another 40 for General Performance, and 10 points each for the categories of Tone and Rhythm - judges took in the last of eight bands, Elite Steel Orchestra, at 11:06 p.m. One of the smaller groups in the competition, Elite Steel Orchestra rendered Man Can’t Tek Butt arranged by their musical director Kesslon “Tafa” Wilson; their performance ended the Panorama phase of “Steel and Glitter” at 11:15 p.m.
Interestingly, the arrangers of the three top bands in the 2014 St. Vincent & The Grenadines Panorama - Barry Mannette, Rikky Andre Robley and Seion Gomez - all hail from the ‘home of Pan’ Trinidad and Tobago. Gomez has the longest tenure, having worked with Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra for several years.
The show’s “Glitter” component featuring sections of mas bands followed the Panorama, with the ‘Clash of the Divas’ showcasing Vincy soca artists Tamisha Nicholls-Lewis, Shaunelle McKenzie and Fire Empress - serving up even more entertainment for the small crowd on hand. Results for both the Panorama and the mas band segment were delivered at 1:11 a.m., and with respect to the Panorama, only the top four bands were revealed.
2014 Panorama Results - St. Vincent & the Grenadines
|Selection / Performer
|Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra
|Ah Bussing It
|South East Steel Orchestra
|Ooh La La
(Alston “Becket” Cyrus)
|Starlift Steel Orchestra
Rikky Andre Robley
|Symphonix Steel Orchestra
|Ah Don’t Care
Remaining competitors listed in alphabetical order
|Elite Steel Orchestra
|Man Can’t Tek Butt
Kesslon “Tafa” Wilson
|Genesis Steel Orchestra
(Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas)
|Georgetown All Stars Steel Orchestra
(Alston “Becket” Cyrus)
|Potential Steel Orchestra
|Loving Can’t Done
Johnny “JP” Pompey
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