London, England, U.K. - Ebony Steelband’s performance of the Duvone Stewart-arrangement of Mash Up sung by the late Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart has given the orchestra its twenty-third UK Panorama championship. For Duvone this marks his fourth winning collaboration with the UK steelband powerhouse. No doubt, Ebony’s director Pepe Francis MBE is proud that his orchestra continues to make history with this accomplishment.
Ebony Steel Band delivers winning performance at UK Panorama 2022
There was still light in the evening sky when band number one, Croydon Steel Orchestra, took the stage with its eighty players sporting vibrantly-colored shirts, head scarves and white pants, to kick off the glorious steelband competitive exhibition called Panorama. Band manager and arranger Paul Dowie took on Nadia Batson’s sultry Jelly and intriguingly delved into a pop-style motif late in the arrangement.
Croydon Steel Orchestra performs at UK Panorama 2022
Pan Nation was second on stage under a now darkened sky, determined for a total musical upset, by ‘causing trouble’ with Voice’s Out and Bad. As with Croydon just before, arranger Chris Storey is also a key administrator - the founder and manager of Pan Nation. With proud drill madame Delphina James to ensure the band was on point, indeed, the 100-player-strong orchestra left its musical mark on the pan lovers on hand.
Pan Nation Steel Orchestra performs at UK Panorama 2022
Mangrove came out next to Mash Up the place with their spirited title defense, and impassioned arranger André White euphorically synced with his 115-player orchestra - just as if he himself had been behind his double second. The band’s flag woman danced through the nuances of the arrangement, but then she had already set the tone while the band was still setting up, with moments of sheer joy witnessed by all.
Mangrove Steelband performs at UK Panorama 2022
But the final decision of judges who included Andy Narell, Annise Hadeed and Robert Bailey, was that veteran Ebony Steel Band following in the wake of Mangrove delivered the goods, musically speaking, to clinch the 2022 championship. With Mash Up too as their tune, it was the equivalent of a declaration of musical war. And champion arranger Duvone Stewart was a deliberate and structural study in meeting the musical ‘challenge,’ incorporating with subtlety signature lines from hits of late soca star “Blaxx” - and once again putting Ebony over the top. The presentation was declared a tribute to “Blaxx” who was said to have been a good friend of Ebony Steel Band.
Appearing in fifth position was an orchestra which last sipped from the cup of Panorama victory in 1984 - Metronomes. But with a Vivian Miller-arrangement of Out and Bad they ensured things remained ‘hot’ until the very end. A fire-eater elevated the stakes, punctuating her feats in time with the music, receiving “Wows” from onlookers, and raising the temperature on the already energized show. This final band for the night closed out the competition by 11:40 p.m. local time.
Metronomes Steel Orchestra performs at UK Panorama 2022
As is the norm, the UK Panorama crowd was in full effect and on hand at the venue from the beginning of the competition phase. In other Panorama competitions around the world, sometimes the audience grows only later on in the event.
After each band in the evening’s performance, the crowd erupted in tumultuous applause, while eagerly awaiting the next on stage. Incidentally, for some reason there was an unexpectedly long turnaround between Pan Nation playing their final notes at 9:00 p.m., and Mangrove beginning their count at 9:52 p.m., almost a full hour having elapsed.
Food for thought: will there ever be a point of professional etiquette when a photographer does not boldly and unashamedly run back and forth directly in front an orchestra to take photos, while the band is in the throes of performing before a global audience? Oh well.
And in an age where some are actively trying to ‘downsize’ and/or replace Panorama presentations and the number of musicians in steel orchestras to coddle their insecurities, sensibilities and enhance their own pockets - it is simply glorious to have a Panorama (outside of Trinidad & Tobago), where the ‘smallest’ bands fielded eighty musicians...
The UK National Panorama was held at the Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park, Kensal Road on Saturday 27th August.
Steelband music lovers around the world were appreciative and thrilled to take in this year’s Panorama competition online, made possible again by Party Caribbean.
Have a look back at the UK Panorama as streamed.
Following are the results:
|Placing / Points
# of Players
|Arranger, Tuner, Captain, et al
Mangrove Steel Orchestra
Nation Steel Orchestra
Out and Bad
Out and Bad
& Toussaint Clarke
** Order of Appearance in competition
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