Babonneau Steel Orchestra - 2023 St. Lucia Panorama champions
Castries, Saint Lucia, W.I. - Babonneau Steel Orchestra reaffirmed its status as the champion band in St. Lucia when they came out on top in the country’s annual national steelband Panorama on Sunday July 9 at the SAB, Vigie. The band followed the direction of resident arranger Allison Marquis who took care of musical business with his arrangement of Sufferer’s Song aka “Malaway” by “De Ashanti.”
And with its successful title defense, Babonneau Steel Orchestra has now racked up seven championships, its first coming back in 2011. There were four challengers in line for the title, including Pantime Steel Orchestra, itself a championship band with three titles. Pantime took second place this year, with Pantastic Muzik Steel Orchestra coming in third; in fact there was no change in the top three positions, which remained the same as in 2022.
Babonneau Steel Orchestra on stage at the 2023 St. Lucia Panorama
The Steel Pan Development Programme opened the show playing the national anthem at 8:30 p.m., which was followed by an uptempo number as they got pan patrons ready for the Panorama. These young players may not have been competing, but they came to ‘represent’ - and they did.
Players of the Steel Pan Development Programme open the 2023 St. Lucia Panorama
A short time after members of the first band Pantime Steel Orchestra walked on stage to a cheering crowd at 9:00 p.m. After their brief “warm up” piece, the count for Anba Goj, Pantime’s tune of choice - was heard and then the ‘Pan Party’ was officially underway as the eighty musicians showed up and showed out with their performance of the Amrit Samaroo-arrangement. Pride of country was displayed in their uniform attire which was mainly white but proudly emblazoned and trimmed with the national Creole dress print for the males, tops for the ladies and vertical strips of the fabric on steelband racks.
Pantime Steel Orchestra on stage at the 2023 St. Lucia Panorama
SM Steel next took the stage, not nearly as large, with a thirty-seven-player complement but determined to have a good time; after all, they were playing Bachelor’s Carnival Time. And they looked the part, as their members dressed mainly in black shorts and bright orange T-Shirts, continued the ‘fun’ theme with most wearing knee-hi socks, one yellow on the right foot, and black on the left.
SM Steel at the 2023 St. Lucia Panorama
Appearing third for the night, seventy-five-player strong Pantastic Muzik was a sight in purple and white; guys in purple shirts and white pants, ladies in purple dresses with white aprons - all trimmed too in the colors of their national dress. Pantastic Muzik’s overall presentation made for effective visual and more importantly, auditory, fare - in keeping with the motif of Manje Mwen (My Food) - its tune of choice. Oh - and those beautiful purple pans...
Pantastic Muzik Steel Orchestra at the 2023 St. Lucia Panorama
The penultimate Panorama participant, Laborie Steel Pan tasted sweet success in steel as champions back in 2016, and on this night seventy band members came together and made a musical stand with a cheeky rendition of Wine On Your Boom Boom. Their representation on stage, yes, included ample-bottomed beauties who showed, ahem, ‘how to do it.’ Incidentally, the band’s ‘warm up’ piece, Biting Insects, a couple minutes before, got musical juices flowing in the right direction. ’Nuff said.
Laborie Steel Pan at the 2023 St. Lucia Panorama
Final band Babonneau Steel Orchestra got rocking with Mash Up by the late Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart as their warm-up tune, before swinging with confidence into what would be their championship performance. The band closed out practically in the same timeframe as the 2022 competition - 11:17 p.m.
While music lovers in general and steelpan ‘aficionados’ had the merry task of taking in, passionately cheering on, and dancing with - the steel orchestras, a panel of judges was charged to consider only the respective criteria provided, and score each band accordingly, resulting as always in that oft repeated phrase at Panoramas around the world: “The judges’ decision is final.” Chief judge Gregory Piper and Ezra Joseph were two such who reprised their roles, with O’Neill Fontenelle, Timothy Mondesir and Dr. Mia Gormandy-Benjamin sharing responsibilities alongside them for the 2023 competition.
In the results phase, the tradition in the St. Lucia Panorama of naming solely the top three steel orchestras, continued. Tamara Gibson, Chairperson of St. Lucia’s Carnival Planning & Management Committee (CPMC) stood in readiness to present the trophy to the representative of the band coming in third, which was arranger Krystal Nestor of Pantastic Muzik Steel Orchestra.
Krystal Nestor (left ) arranger for Pantastic Muzik Steel Orchestra, receives the third-place trophy from Tamara Gibson (right)
Once more, in a repeat of 2022, both Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore and St. Lucia National Steelbands Association president Perline Mathurin stepped forward in anticipation of awarding the trophy for second place, again going to Pantime Steel Orchestra.
Pantime Steel Orchestra band member (left), being presented with the trophy for second place by Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore (center), and St. Lucia National Steelbands Association president Perline Mathurin (right)
Then it was time for the most delightful ‘replay’ of the previous Panorama, for the respective band and arranger. Dr. Ernest Hilaire, Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, accompanied again by Saint Lucia’s newly-crowned National Carnival Queen - this time 2023’s Shanice Butcher - handed over the championship trophy to Babonneau Steel Orchestra’s arranger Allison Marquis. And, the show was a wrap - all before midnight.
Left to right: Champion Babonneau Steel Orchestra arranger Allison Marquis, National Carnival Queen 2023 Shanice Butcher (partially hidden), and Dr. Ernest Hilaire, Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information
There was good camera work by the video team for the YouTube live stream made available courtesy Carnival Saint Lucia.
Following are the results with scores, where provided.
|Placing / Points /
|Band/ # of Players
|Arranger, et al
|Babonneau Steel Orchestra
Sufferer’s Song aka
(Herman “De Ashanti” Hippolyte)
Mario Joseph & Ivan Smith
Jamil Mc Donald
Marylin Mc Donald
|Pantime Steel Orchestra
(The Mighty Pep)
Mynell “Shiki” Lovence
Cecil “Tortee” Philgence
Pantastic Muzik Steel Orchestra
Results were not announced for the following two steel orchestras in the competition
|Laborie Steel Pan
Wine On Your Boom Boom
(Herman “De Ashanti” Hippolyte)
Panorama images source: YouTube screen grabs
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