New York Panorama 2023 At A Glance - Steel Orchestras, ‘Movements’ and More

Brooklyn, New York, USA - Steel orchestras are getting ready for Panorama 2023 in New York on Saturday September 2. It has been four years since the premiere steelband music competition had its showing, and many are chomping at the musical bit, anxious to be out of the gate, after the COVID-19 pandemic changed the flow for what was the norm on a Saturday preceding Labor Day in New York.

Band practice is already underway while still ‘inside’ for some, but will be outdoors in their respective pan yards fairly soon. As usual, the omnipresent frustrating side of the New York Panorama season is the sourcing of affordable locations to call ‘home’ and pan yard for the few weeks of necessary practice for the competition.

As at the time of this writing, nine bands are expected to participate, with the majority going with Olatunji Yearwood’s beautiful Engine Room as their tune of choice.  Unless there are changes, potentially six are taking this to the competition stage.  Arranger Odie Franklin is heading in a different direction with Despers USA, opting for Voice’s Long Live Soca.

In an interesting development, defending champion arranger Terrance “BJ” Marcelle has switched musical camps. His four Panorama championships have been with D’Radoes Steel Orchestra, including the last Panorama in 2019. “BJ” had been the arranger for D’Radoes since 2011. This year he is working with Metro Steel Orchestra led by Anthony “Big Tony” Joseph; so can he retain his title as champion arranger with Metro?

Steelband music lovers will not have far to go to be their own ‘arm chair judges’ prior to competition, as the two pan yards are literally around the corner from each other, just a couple blocks apart. D’Radoes, determined to keep their title as the number one Panorama steel orchestra, have in turn secured the services of the Trinidad & Tobago Desperadoes Steel Orchestra’s champion arranger, Carlton “Zanda” Alexander; this is the first time he is going to Panorama in New York.

For now, also, there are two new entries in the competition. Eruption Steel Orchestra is led by one of the newer faces in arranging in New York. Damany “Bob” James first got his taste of the Panorama arranging arena with CrossFire Steel Orchestra in 2019.  With the shocking passing of the band’s leader - the iconic Martin “Dougie” Douglas - due to COVID, the music organization can be said to be in a state of suspension. James has returned now with his own outfit, Eruption. Steel Sensation, a proven veteran ensemble in the general music scene, is also making musical tracks to the Panorama stage led musically by Tristan Brewington-Japsi.

Harmony Music Makers make their way to Panorama for another year. This time veteran arranger Wilfred Kieal, Sr. is back on board having last worked with the group in 2016. Kieal will craft his vision of the late Black Stalin’s Black Man Feeling To Party for Harmony’s 2023 music presentation. This track is also the tune of choice for Metro.

Philly Pan Stars out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has journeyed to the New York Panorama stage for the past four years since 2016, three with Yohan Popwell as arranger. For 2023, Amrit Samaroo has taken the arranging reins of the band as they return to the competition. Amrit is no stranger to New York Panorama having arranged for ADLIB Steel Orchestra from 2014–2016. ADLIB is reportedly not participating this year.

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