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New York Steelbands - 2007 Panorama and Beyond
- Grades A-Z
An in depth analysis of one the greatest annual performances of tuned percussionists in North America

2007 Panorama Champions Sonatas Steel Orchestra

Wow! Another New York steelband season has passed.  All in all it was a very good season depending on your perspective.  Most of the New York steelbands made it out for the Summer season. And as we all know that is no small feat.  Every year it is becoming increasingly difficult for steelbands to survive in the Big Apple. Indeed, every year bands seem to have different zip codes for their pan yards. Real estate is currently at a premium in the New York area.  The challenges facing any steelpan performance organization in this city is tremendous and constantly in a state of flux.  Yet in spite of this the bands came out in force.  The steelband movement is very strong in New York in spite of environmentally unfriendly confines.  Most of the bands with a few exceptions actually got larger this season. Nearly all of the bands with one exception fell between the 70 to 100 players range.  Some of the bands could easily go past the 100 player limit if there were no restriction.  The management of New York steel orchestras have to be congratulated for their untold sacrifices to make this happen.  Most of the bands participated in the band launches, J'Ouvert and/or Panorama.


The Good

New York's steelband panorama is still the greatest display of tuned percussion instruments in North America.  Some great music was created and performed by the New York steel orchestras.  The bands operated on a high musical level.  From top to bottom if you are not on your 'A' game and clicking on all cylinders, you can get you feelings hurt real bad.  New York Panorama and non-panorama bands brought a diverse and potent musical repertoire to the table.  Just check out Steel Sensation and Utopia Pan Soul in the latter category, for example.  Pan in New York is clearly much more than panorama.


Wyclef Jean with Pantonic Steel Orchestra

This year, the pan yards became alive again - particularly in the last week before panorama. The crowds are beginning to return - in contrast with last year's showing. Even Hip Hop superstar Wyclef Jean made it to the panyard. Buses ferrying folk from out of town to visit the pan yards were seen on a few occasions. Although there seems to be a concerted and usually effective effort on the part of some in authority, to stifle much of the traditional pre-labor day activities, this year the pan yards were left alone for much of this season. The bands were able to practice without much interruption by the city authorities. People visiting the pan yards are a critical part of the existence of the orchestras.

Young people continue to exhibit a strong attraction to the steelpan instrument.  Close to one thousand players took to the stage on panorama night.  A significant amount of the players are between Junior high School, High School and College age.  In fact a sizeable amount of the players literally went from panorama to NY metropolitan airports in order to be present on their college campuses Monday morning.  The growth of steelpan in the New York schools is expanding exponentially. 

Trevor Stubbs & the Utopia Pan Soul Quartet |
A Utopia Pan Soul Production

Most of the steelbands are internet savvy and are online through one means or another. Some have even become e-commerce active and are finally learning to make their music work for them. Moreover, some have began to recognize the financial freedom and power that emerging technologies will have on every aspect of their lives. Some of the bands are beginning to understand how to market themselves to a global audience. And even more importantly bands are realizing that they are in the entertainment business. Furthermore, they are now cognizant that there is real competition for people's time, entertainment dollars and sponsors; not simply their fellow steel orchestras 'down the block,' but organizations like the New York Yankees or Mets, or Sony's new play station.

Indeed the steelband organizations are being to develop an entrepreneurial agenda and spirit.  The smaller and non-panorama organizations have taken the lead in this arena as they are more apt to look to create situations that are financially advantageous to them.  Many steelband organizations have taken up the role as producers and promoters in addition to being artists of their own shows.  The following are all steelband produced events.  CASYM (Carols & Classics at the Brooklyn Museum), Pantonic, Women In Steel (Pan in the Park), Utopia (Carnival of Instruments, III) and Sesame Flyers (Steelpan Extravaganza).

Great promise lies in the fact that many of the bands now realize that they do have a product that is marketable, and valued - that being their music and performances.  Finally, groups are showing signs of understanding that their music must and can work for them.  Many have diligently professionally digitally recorded their music at the highest quality available for a few years now.  Many of them have sufficient years archived to now release greatest hits compilations of their panorama masterpieces.  Groups like Sesame Flyers and Utopia Pan Soul have already moved into the DVD productions of their shows.

The Bad

In spite of the continued increase in the popularity of the steelpan instrument, and by extension, the steel  orchestra - steelband music organizations continue to face many of the same critical problems that threaten their continued existence within the city for decades, with no help in sight.  Many of the attitudes and people who are detrimental to the steelband music movement in New York are unfortunately still in place.  Inadequate, ineffective, incompetent and non-existent representation continue to remove steelband organizations in general (through non-representation), from participating in any serious discussions about matters that directly affect their future in New York city.  In spite of all obvious contributions the steelbands bring to the financial, educational, social and cultural fabric of the city, they (the steelbands), and their supporters continued to be marginalized by inept representation within the political circles and in the private sector.

The housing boom of the last few years has removed almost all of the traditional potential panyards.  Furthermore, re-districting, re-zoning and re-gentrification are all seriously threatening existing panyards.  Couple this with the fact that no one has championed to put the panyards as part of the New York city's permanent charter, they have no real right to exist.  Every steel orchestra in New York, regardless of history and age, is literally one second from being homeless.  After 50 years of pan in the city, this is very sad.  In New York a band can go from experiencing the exhilarating joy of winning a panorama championship, to the agony and destitution of being homeless, in literally a moment's notice.  In 2006, panorama champions CASYM found themselves in that situation; so too did 2003 champions Pantonic steel orchestra.  And why, again, do the bands let those smiling politicians into their yards and onto the panorama stage on competition night?

Economically speaking panorama is still not financially viable.  The prize monies are grossly inadequate and insulting.

The steel orchestras still haven't begun to take advantage of the Big Apple.  This is the financial, media and cultural center of the world.

How come the presidents of Percussive Arts Society, Paiste, Yamaha Drums, Pearl, Lugwig, Zildjian, Sabian, Latin Percussion, Remo, Tama and Gator - just to name a few - are not routinely present at the panorama?  Are New York steelbands not percussionists too?  Is this an anti-New York pan thing?  We saw a 36-inch timpani, a large concert drum and a huge gong on Pantonic Steel Orchestra's float.  So what gives?  Don't New York iron men count as percussionists too?  Do we have to turn in our drums, cymbals and cowbells at the door?  Feel free to contact us at to discuss this thirty-year plus oversight of some of the greatest drummers and percussionists in the world...


The Ugly

The inability of the steelpan fraternity to put differences amongst themselves on hold, continues to thwart any real forward progress or exhibition of power.  Moreover a leadership body with any significant success as it relates to representing the New York steelbands on a global, national or even local level, has yet to emerge.

Much of the talent, brain power and skills needed to propel the steelband movement forward are in abundance within the bands and steelband community but go relatively unrecognized, untapped and unused.

For better or for worst depending your point of view, the New York panorama has been associated with the West Indian American Carnival Day Association (WIADCA).  In the latest WIADCA 2007 catalog the director of marketing and public relations, Jane Alexander, says "With non-existent government funding and corporate support down by over 50% - the future is bleak for  New York's treasured West Indian Carnival".  One would have expected that after a forty-year monopoly on running the biggest street parade in North America and annual cash cow for the city of New York like no other, WIADCA would be the biggest sponsor of all things related to carnival as opposed to looking for sponsors.  New York steel orchestras beware - it might be intelligent for you each to get your own raft and life jacket to suit...

Panorama 2007 and more...

Panorama continues to be one of the major driving forces in New York pan.  However there are many more bands that exist, that are highly regarded and do not participate in panorama.  This year's New York panorama was very good.  Great music and performances by all the bands.

Sound: - Pass -

Ha Ha.  That old devil sound engineer got blanked this year.  Somehow the pan community was able to force a change.  Basement Recordings was brought in to take care of the sound.  We should have known it was too good to be true.  That old devil left his accomplices behind.  In spite of their unprofessional behavior which prevented us, the panorama audience, from experiencing the ultimate sound for a panorama, Basement's handling of the sound allowed the panorama discussion among the audience, fans and players, to focus on the bands' performances and their music, and not on how atrocious the sound was, as in past years.

We got to hear every band clearly - a 'first' at a WIADCA panorama for us.  Indeed, the presence of Basement at this year's panorama was a moral and obvious sonic victory for the steelband community.  However, based on the difficulties Basement experienced with the WIADCA personnel, it is safe to assume that Basement will not be back.  There is absolutely no incentive or reason for them to return if they can't deliver their best work.  So guess who will be back in 2008 doing sound for the panorama?

Adjudication: - Fail -

2007 Adjudicators at work

Judging a panorama is not an easy task.  Moreover, you are not going to make any friends.  However, this year's judging turned into a fiasco as there were serious mistakes and omissions in the tallying of the scores which came to light days after the competition.  Embarrassing! And there were additional questions about the system used to tabulate the final scores.  Unlike his fellow judges, one did not sign his score sheets, raising ugly results validity concerns among bands. Most of the bands continue to complain about the lack of comments on score sheets.  How can they understand how the judges came to their decisions, and to improve for the next year, if there are no comments?

All six judges for this year's competition, were also part of the 2006 adjudication panel.

2007 Judges, alternate judge & related personnel

  • Judith de Four-Howard

  • Franklyn Grant

  • Ezra Joseph

  • Wade Robinson

  • Ronald Joseph 

  • Jennifer Blackman

As we said last year - the judges' decisions are final and thus are not subject to question.  However, it would have been intelligent if the pan association had someone to monitor the process on their behalf.

Arranging:  - Pass -

The arrangers did very good work this year.  Everyone did put some interesting music out there.  Our only complaint, or better yet, request, is that more of the arrangers use the musical latitude that the New York's broadminded panorama attitude affords you.  Push the envelope and continue to challenge the norm.  Don't sit in the pocket.  Judges cannot adjudicate the next great thing.  It is only through this boldness you, the art form and the music will continue to grow. 


New York Steelband Governing Bodies: - Fail -
It's a year later and what's different?

The Bands: - B - (overall) {Pan in New York is like no other place in the world...}


ADLIB  CASYM CrossfireDespers USA D'Radoes Harmony NY MarsicansPantonic Sesame Flyers Sonatas
Utopia Pan Soul; the Next GenerationSteel Sensation  Women In Steel Pan Ambassadors Higher Levin Hearts of Steel

ADLIB Long Island's Finest.  speaker.gif (351 bytes)
When Steel Talks said last year that then-sixteen-year old André White was going to be the arranger of the future for ADLIB.  We were very impressed then with his panorama arrangement for ADLIB.  Unfortunately, ADLIB played first last year and was tortured severely  by the sound system.  This year the world got a hearing of what this extremely talented young man and orchestra have to offer.  In many ways ADLIB was the story of the 2007 panorama.  The young arranger and the Long Island steelband have finally received the recognition they so justly deserve.  The kids of ADLIB have grown up.  They are now teenagers and young adults surrounded by the guidance of committed adults.  ADLIB's management is to be commended for having the foresight and patience to invest their time and resources in these young people.  ADLIB will continue to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come because they are young and remain focused, humble and hungry.

Their tune of choice this year was Amrit Samaroo's Band From Space.  It was an excellent choice for the band.

Look for ADLIB to threaten the virtual lock - and deservingly so -  that the Big Three (CASYM, Sonatas and Pantonic) have had on the top positions since 2000.

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 3rd | 10th | 10th | 10th | 7th |

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CASYM came into this panorama as the defending champions. They have firmly established themselves as one of the elite steel orchestras of New York - so expectations going into this panorama were high. Performing in the number one position is never optimal for any steelband because normally, the majority of the crowd has not settled in; as the first group you are forced to set the judging bar by default, and of course you can become the sound check for a wicked sound engineer. However, on this night none of those things impacted on CASYM's performance. This was simply not their night. CASYM performed very well but failed to take the judging out of the judges' hands. In a word - CASYM was 'out-CASYMed' by the winning band. They (the winning band) just did everything better.

CASYM fell victim to its own success this year.  To regain the title CASYM will have to start their season earlier and finish their song earlier.  As a matter of fact all the bands will have to adopt a different approach if they want to seriously challenge this year's champion.  CASYM who took second position trailed the winners by 21 points.

CASYM with Arddin Herbert will always be a lethal combination.  Arddin is a proven arranger.  CASYM will continue to be part of the trio (the other two being Sonatas, Pantonic) that has dominated NY panorama in recent years.  Look for CASYM to come real hard next year.  Their tune of choice this year was 'Sharing Licks' by Len "Boogsie" Sharpe.  This selection was perfect for CASYM.

CASYM performs throughout the year in addition to running a series of successful music education programs that feature the steelpan as the instrument of choice.  Their versatility continues to make them one of the most sought-after steel orchestras in the country.

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 2nd | 1st | 4th | 2nd | 2nd

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CrossFire entered this season with much promise.  The arranging reigns were turned over to the very capable Anthony "Pra" Trebuse.  Crossfire has been steadily investing in its infrastructure and musical future.  Look for this investment to pay big dividends soon.  Crossfire's instruments are among the best in the New York steelband fraternity.

The judges' scores and band placement in this year's panorama do not reflect the band's improvement or performance over last year.  For whatever reason Crossfire's version of 'Sharing Licks' did not go over well with these judges but was hailed by many pan fans.  As we went 'to print,' When Steel Talks was informed that nineteen points 'mysteriously' omitted from Crossfire on Panorama night, were officially awarded them, making their points 404, and moving them into eighth position overall in the competition.

Crossfire took fashion sense to new levels as they were all decked out in oriental-styled attire.  They get an 'A' for fashion.  Their tune of choice this year was Sharing Licks by Len "Boogsie" Sharpe.  This was a good selection for the band and arranger.

Again, as in previous years, Crossfire could be found cranking up a storm on J'Ouvert morning.  The band captured a large following on Empire Blvd.

Crossfire is one of the groups that has been committed to recording their panorama selections.  Look for their 2007 offering on the 2007 Pan in New York pan yard recordings CD.

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 8th | 8th | 7th | 5th | 13th

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Dem Stars
Dem Stars brought in veteran arranger Denzil Botus formerly of  Despers USA fame.  That association between Mr. Botus and Despers USA brought six consecutive championships in the 1990's.  Dem Stars has featured six different arrangers in the seven years since it entered the panorama scene in 2001.  Historically speaking in New York, arrangers and bands need to grow together.  Expectantly, we look for Mr. Botus to be back next year to build on what he has begun in 2007.  His reputation and past accomplishments are not in jeopardy.

Last 5 Panorama Placings >>  9th | 9th | 6th | 6th | 8th

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'Clueless' or 'perplexed' might be the operating word to Despers USA's feelings in terms of explaining their 2007 placing in this year's panorama.  It is definitely not normal that a group with the caliber of players and victorious history as Despers USA possesses, to place so low in a panorama competition.  Clearly there was a disconnect with the judges and the orchestra's performance/arrangement.  In speaking to band management, Despers convey that they can accept their placement.  What they find hard to digest is the total lack of comments on some score sheets by judges as to how they came to their decision, and the non-signature/validation of one in particular.

Without a doubt this year will not go down as one of Despers more memorable years.  This is the third year for Despers USA with Eddie Quarless at the arranging helm.  Both arranger and band members have very high expectations.  There is no panic in the Despers camp but they are concerned about the unanswered questions and lack of accountability.

Despers USA possesses quality players who employ some of the best playing techniques on the instrument anywhere.  We are afraid with the almost fanatical attention paid to steel orchestras' panorama placings by young players and fans, that there may be some very valuable music offerings lost or worse - ignored - by newly-emerging players.

Their tune of choice this year was 'Sharing Licks' by Len "Boogsie" Sharpe.  This song for a band as heady and musically-gifted as Despers USA, is debatable.  Two additional bands played this song in the panorama; however their arrangers come out of the 'Boogsie' school of thought and therefore that choice would be natural for them.  Also, by coincidence, the three bands that played this song appeared consecutively on stage.  This may have had something to do with the low scores.  We would have loved to have heard Despers do Band From Space or Ray Holman's "We Can't Go On Like This".

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 10th | 5th | 5th | 8th | 6th

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D'Radoes aka Radoes turned over the arranger's duties to Curtis Edwards - another up-and-coming arranger partially influenced by the Bradley school of thought.  Veteran arranger Robert Greenidge was also brought in to bolster the arrangement. This year's tune of choice was "Band From Space". 

Radoes is made up of veteran players for the most part.  They are a very dangerous band on panorama night because they all come from winning environments.  However, Radoes remains unpredictable and inconsistent for panorama.  This year's 7th place was totally out of character with the group's past panorama history.  Junior "Man" Samuels and his team are extremely committed to the group's success.  Look for them to sure-up some parts over the off-season and come back out smoking.

This year Radoes' stageside (the representation of the band which performs outside of the panorama competition) was vastly improved.  This bodes well for the future as there will be a core group of players on which stability can be realized for the panorama orchestra. 

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 7th | 4th | 2nd | 4th | 3rd

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Harmony made some major changes this year for the purpose of immediately propelling them into the next level.  Veteran arranger Ken "Professor" Philmore was handed the arranger's duties.  Harmony, made up primarily of very young players has risen up the scale of steelband respectability by New York standards very quickly.  Ken Philmore has won a few New York panoramas in the past with Sonatas, and has always had the ability to relate to young people.  By all accounts and our own observations, the transition to the new arranger was an easy one.  The young people seem to have developed a good relationship with Philmore.

Harmony's tune of choice was "Nah Going Home" by Biggie Irie. 

This is not your 'traditional' panorama song but a great tune for New York panorama in its urban setting, which is much more liberal in its panorama music mindset and expectations.  It was also a great selection for the young people in Harmony because of its popularity.  Pro's approach was to give the arrangement a pop and funk feel -  a "Homeboy" look as he called it. It worked, as it went over very well with the group and fans.

Harmony finds itself at a difficult crossroad that few groups ever really make - that is, the jump from steelband music mediocrity to that of a ranking and top class steel orchestra.  This takes hard work, modesty and dedication to develop the excellent musicianship necessary to get to the next level.  The next few years will determine whether Harmony's players and management have what it takes to get there.  On the part of Harmony's management's When Steel Talks has witnessed a commitment to young people that goes way beyond music.  They are to be highly commended for that.

Harmony joins the Pan in New York panyard series this year for the first time.  It is very good that their 2007 panorama music will be available on CD.

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 7th | 8th | 12th | 9th | 12th

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NY Marsicans is in a rebuilding mode.  At this stage, anytime you can make it out of the gate in New York that is a good thing.  Their tune of choice was De Fosto's 'Pan Lamentation'.  Anthony Simpson was their arranger for 2007.  Despite the current odds against them and challenges faced, they have a lot of heart, and continue to maintain a presence on the New York pan scene.


Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 11th | 12th | 8th | 3rd | 4th

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Pantonic is one of the "Big Three" on the New York panorama scene - and with that acknowledgement comes much expectations and responsibilities internally and publicly.  To their credit the players and management have handled it remarkably well.  In its ten-year history,  Pantonic has placed lower than third only once (in 2004 the group was allotted next to last place, 12th position).  Their overall record speaks volumes about the Pantonic music program and consistency.

This year Keith Roberts settled comfortably into the arranger's chair.  With all the questions and doubts about 'could he successfully handle one of the most prestigious, coveted and powerful positions in the New York steelband music world' answered - Pantonic moved forward with uncanny calm as they anticipated capturing their sixth title in eight years.  This year people were clamoring "I've got to take Keith's music".

Pantonic took the panorama stage with the maximum 100 musicians but could have easily gone up with 120 if the competition allowed.  Mr. Roberts dropped an arrangement of 'Band From Space' that resounded well with the band's players and fans.  They, Pantonic, have more great young panorama performing players than any other band in the city - so there is absolutely no excuse as to why they are not the tightest performing group every year. Pantonic must get back to the things that made them lean and hungry for success.  This two-year drought is the longest Pantonic has ever gone without a championship.  Look for that 'lean, mean and hungry dog' to be back next year.

As usual, Pantonic recorded its 2007 panorama selection for the Pan in New York series.  Pantonic has recorded its selections every year, all available on CDs on their web site at

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 3rd | 3rd | 1st | 12th | 1st

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2007 may be looked back on as the most pivotal year in the history of Sesame Flyers Steel Orchestra.  In what has to be viewed as one of  the major pre-season developments, veteran and champion arranger Pelham Goddard of the famed Exodus Steel Orchestra, took over the arranger duties.

The infusion of Pelham Goddard and exit of their past arranger Freddie Harris, III indeed signified a major change in approach and direction for the organization.  The name Pelham Goddard brings instant credibility and professionalism. And with him come many expectations internally and externally.  So, the big question going into this panorama season was:  could Sesame players meet Pelham's music performance standards or would he have to compromise?

In a recent When Steel Talks interview with Pelham Goddard, he said that he made no compromises.  His approach changed with an understanding that in New York there are other things and issues competing for his players' time and attention, but he maintains that you can't 'cheat' the music.  Pelham Goddard, in addition to being a first-class musician, is also an educator.  This year he brought a level of seriousness and direction to Sesame not seen in previous years. Even personnel from Exodus were brought in to drill the orchestra in the days leading to panorama.  Sesame's players indeed did step up their game as they became more comfortable with Pelham's approach and expectations.

Again Sesame Flyers has displayed a commitment to the development of their youth through engaging Mr. Goddard.  Pelham has conveyed to us that he is here for the long  haul and will be working with the Sesame Youth towards developing them into champions for as long as he is needed.  From the results of this year that may not be very long.  Sesame Flyers achieved one of its highest panorama placements in its history.

Sesame Flyers' tune of choice was 'Band From Space'.  Sesame Flyers will again be featured on the Basement Recordings-produced 2007 New York Panyard recordings.

And it must be documented here that Sesame Flyers was once again way out front of the other bands in terms of visual presentation for their panyard recording this year.  Their musicians looked spiffy and were camera-ready, all dressed in matching black shirts. The group's management initially made such a showing during their 2006 recording.

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 5th |  6th | 9th | 7th | 15th

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Many say that the race to capture the 2007 panorama championship was over in August, and all that was left was who would come in second and third - moreover, just how far would Sonatas leave them in its dust.  It was a blow out.  The rest of the field took a serious thumping.  Sonatas outdistanced the nearest band by 21 points.  Regardless of what you thought about the ability of the judges, it was no contest.  Sonatas did what we expect most champions to do - take the judging out of the judges' hands.

Sonatas put on a great performance.  They looked good. Sounded good. And performed very, very well.  They brought a flair and stylishness that captured the crowd immediately.  Their choreography was almost flawless (too bad VH1 or MTV wasn't there).  With Basement handling the sound you got to hear the nuances of their Yohan Popwell arrangement.  In addition the audience also got to hear the superior quality of their instruments, and just how great their tuner and pan instrument manufacturer, Bertrand 'Birch' Kellman, is.

Sonatas has developed a system that affords them a certain musical and performance comfort zone by finishing their tune at least a week in advance.  The other groups will have to change their thought process if they expect to serious challenge Sonatas in the future.  In Sonatas' long history they have never been known to beat themselves, and that is not about to start now.  Frankly, Sonatas' Black and Gold never looked so good.  All indicators say that Sonatas likes first place, and is not going to give it up peacefully.  With eight titles, Sonatas has more panorama wins than any other group in New York Panorama history.  They are also one of only two group that has won two panoramas in the last five years - the other being Pantonic.

Sonatas, similarly to the other members of the Big Three (Pantonic and CASYM) took the stage with an announced 100 players. But unlike the other two 'big guns' their size did not diminish their sound or precision.  They were the most balanced group of the night.  Their tune of choice was 'Pan Lamentation'.

Sonatas will again be featured on the Basement Recordings-produced 2007 New York Panyard recordings.

Last 5 Panorama Placings >> 1st | 2nd | 3rd | 1st | 4th

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Utopia Pan Soul: the Next Generation speaker.gif (351 bytes)
Utopia Pan Soul: The Next Generation is a perfect of example of a steelband music organization that has taken the necessary next steps to ensure their future. Utopia has avoided the enticing lure of panorama and the all-encompassing drain on the participating organizations' resources.  Utopia has established itself as a skillful producer, event organizer and performing and recording music artist.

While most other people are 'talking', Utopia is doing it.  Utopia is a great place to be if you are interested in expanding your performance skills.

Utopia can put on a whole show by themselves.  Very few New York stage sides can say they can do that.

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Steel Sensation is simply one of the finest steelpan groups out there.  If you have never seen them. make it your business to do so.  These cats can play.  They have a varied repertoire that showcases their tremendous musicianship.

Every time we saw them perform they wowed the crowed and more importantly, they opened the minds of young people to other possibilities as to what can be done with the instrument.

Steel Sensation is quite serious about taking the art form to new heights.


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Women In Steel (WIS) keeps doing their thing.  This was an interesting year as we noticed that the group had grown with the addition of a few new members.  They remain at the forefront of providing female players with an option to learn the steelpan instrument.  Like a few of the smaller groups mentioned here WIS has also successful moved into the event-producing arena.

We miss Women in Steel from the panorama scene.  Hopefully the panorama economics will change so that it will make business sense for them to once again enter the event.  Their last panorama appearance was in 2003.


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Pan Ambassadors, as we have noted before has no interest in being defined or limited by the panorama experience.  In a recent talk with management it was explained that one of the main goals of Ambassadors, beyond the obvious music focus area, is to provide the players with a sense of appreciation for their dedication and sacrifices to the group regardless of their age.

Ambassadors continues to plot a course that is logical and that makes business sense for the group, with the aim that other groups will see their successful ventures and emulate.


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Higher Levin Steel Orchestra are no longer 'new kids on the block'.  People are starting to take notice of the group.  Their approach and repertoire are very different from any of the other groups in New York.  In their brief existence Higher Levin has already produced two major shows that were sold out.  They have really taken the lead in producing a total steelband show that includes drama, dance and music performance.  Can't wait to see what they will do next year!


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Hearts of Steel is an amalgamation of some veterans on the New York pan scene who have chosen to focus more on 'ole time' classics with an authentic feel to successfully draw their audiences into a joyful musical place.  While the group does leave room for a popular piece or two, they know the power of their chosen niche which was apparent when they appeared at this year's band launches.

The attraction of the band was evident especially in the pleasantly larger representation that took to the streets for J'Ouvert to the delight of supporters.  Wherever they have played this season, they found their way into a special place in the hearts of those present.


Press Picture

For more on Hearts of Steel  click here

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The Show: - C -

There wasn't any change that we noticed - other than the usually-awful sound system was not in place, but was much better this year, and did not cause any more Pan Lamentation that would result in the Bands From Space - Sharing Licks.

Big Ups!!!

A special thanks to the Miami-based sound equipment company, with Virgo and colleagues, for your professionalism.  According to Basement that was something that was in very short supply, based on their interaction with WIADCA personnel.

Media Facilities

Same as Last Year

Stage Size

Same as Last Year

Prizes / Appearance Fees 

Same as Last Year, but again, a non-issue -- bands do have choice --

Post-Production and Follow Up

Same as Last Year

Access (bands, players, management, arrangers, fans)-  B+-

New York Panorama - 2007 In Pictures click >> New York Panorama 2007 In Pictures.

J'Ouvert: - B -
J'Ouvert was great this year.

J'Ouvert - 2007 in Pictures click >> J'Ouvert 2007 Pictures In Review


Audience: - A -
The audience was very well behaved as always, and showed remarkable tolerance and perseverance, despite the promoters having once again provided just five hundred sixty-seven chairs for an event that drew thousands, but who raised the price of admission this year.

No programs appeared to be provided for the gracious audience, so that they could follow the show along and note information on their favorite bands.  Despite this, the love, support and respect the audience displayed for the hard work and great performances of the New York Steel Orchestras was unstinting.

Stage Sides: - B -

Side Bar




The famed recordings series continues...  Basement Recordings again captures the prominent steel orchestras of  New York City, the North American Mecca of pan, in their panyards as no other in the world...

Related Links

2007 Pan In New York CD is Available

An educational, historical, cultural and artistic masterpiece that showcases one of the most vibrant live music performance movements in the United States today...  Click to hear samples

Pan yard recordings are available at

1 (718) 421-2042


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