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Not Going to New York Panorama 2015 but...

Are Steelpan Musicians Worth More Than A Selfie?

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

New York Steelpan

Brooklyn, New York, USA - When Steel Talks (WST) will not be present at the 2015 New York Panorama competition. By choice. Based on our past experiences—including last year’s ‘not-ready-for-prime time, not-so-genius biting insects’ fiasco—we have concluded that this is not a situation that is conducive to WST producing its best work - unimpeded.

The great New York steel orchestra franchises simply deserve much better than they have been afforded. After forty-plus years of New York panorama competitions, the lack of presentation and production progress by the organizers (the same outfit for that entire period)—in a city that is the envy worldwide, of all involved in the performing arts—is abysmal.

Outside of 2001 when the New York steel orchestras organized and produced their own Panorama with quality sound engineering and after-products [CD, DVD] - it has been ‘same ole’ - ‘same O.’ Like the late Rudy King (the man who brought pan to America, and performed in the first Panorama competition) said when asked decades later what was different -- he answered regrettably “Nothing.”

Nevertheless, the Brooklyn orchestras will be there in full form showcasing their talent and brilliance in spite of the drama, hardships and financial difficulties. WST has heard and seen most of the bands. They’re coming with quality music products and performances. They always do.

After nights of sacrifice and practice in some very unfriendly conditions, there are some minimal expectations that these performing steelpan musicians should reasonably expect. After all, the Brooklyn panists are an awesome talent who are investing their time, monies and energies in this magnificent art form. Moreover, they have been a critical contributor to the cultural landscape of New York.

The prizes monies for the participation in the competition are nothing short of criminal, and have been for years. USD $20,000.00 as first prize, for steel orchestras that put out at least $60,000.00, usually much more - in preparation to participate in said competition? Let’s not go there. And the rehearsal/practice environment becomes increasingly more hostile every year, forcing almost all the orchestras to live a nomadic existence of ‘band on the run,’ trying to stave off homelessness and certain artistic/cultural and community death.

So for New York Panorama 2015 the performers should expect (but don’t hold your breath): a high-quality internet stream of the event (after all this is New York, this is America, right?). Superb pictures of all the musicians performing. Parents should be able to have quality photos of their children performing to proudly show-off. An HD quality video of the event with superb audio, that is consistent with today’s audio/video technology norms. The ‘sound engineers’ and their feeble attempts at sound reinforcement for the show have been a painful source of comic relief for years, and pain of another sort—pure dismay and disbelief—for the competing steel orchestras who generally have little or nothing to show because of it.

The organizers are not completely at fault. It takes ‘two to tango,’ and the orchestras have remained by choice in this abusive relationship for decades, while having access to all the technological and business and artistic acumen in the entertainment capital of the world - New York. It is way past time for the orchestras to get in step with the other artistic communities in New York and harness their resources and support.

We expect special guest performers Brooklyn Steel Orchestra (BSO) to get ten times the normal appearance fee. We hope all the performing orchestras and artists get more than “selfies” taken this year for your work and talent. You are worth it.

New York 2015 Panorama line-up - Bands - Arrangers - Tunes

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