St. Vincent Junior Panorama 2023 Results - Starlift Steel Orchestra Juniors Retain Title

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Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, W.I. - The defending champs in the country’s Junior Panorama, Starlift Steel Orchestra Juniors, successfully defended their title - appearing with thirty-five players, the second largest band taking the stage. And the orchestra copped that title with the youngest arranger in the event, Mitchell Israel-Duharte. He arranged Hance John’s All I Need scoring 245 points, and coming in at number one saw the band leaving with the top cash prize of EC $10,000.00.

Starlift Steel Orchestra Juniors at the 2023 Junior Panorama
Starlift Steel Orchestra Juniors at the 2023 Junior Panorama

Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra and Symphonix Steel Orchestra took home EC $8,000.00 and EC $6,000.00 as reward for placing second and third, respectively. Six bands delivered performances before their respective fan bases, steelband music lovers and supporters in general at Carnival City in the Victoria Park venue in Kingstown, the country’s capital.

Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra Juniors at the 2023 Junior Panorama
Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra at the 2023 Junior Panorama


Symphonix Steel Orchestra  at the 2023 Junior Panorama
Symphonix Steel Orchestra  at the 2023 Junior Panorama

Earlier in the afternoon, a sunny Sunday July 2 was the backdrop as families milled around the grounds of Victoria Park in relaxed anticipation of the Panorama.  They reveled in the musical vibes as DJ Tornado kept the tunes of choice (which included classic Vincy soca) of the six participating junior steel orchestras in rotation. Young children had their choice of several bouncy castles, face-painting, and more; some adults lounged in the stadium seating, while others simply stood around, soaking in the atmosphere. The crowd would grow steadily as the evening rolled on.

All this was evident via the live broadcast on “VC3” - the Vincentian Cultural Connection Channel - which started a couple hours or so before the competition itself began.  Unfortunately during the competitive performances, the online audio was far from stellar, and quite bad.  Overall, the sonic quality for viewers listening to the competing steelbands’ audio online, was not an accurate reflection of what attendees in person, and judges, were probably hearing and enjoying.

Pre-activities also included seven of the eight contestants in the upcoming August 5 Miss SVG Teen Pageant, quickly gracing the stage before the pan competition. The poised young women confidently and eloquently introduced themselves to their fellow Vincentians; all hailed from various high schools around the nation. They were followed in equally fluid fashion by the nine participants in the 2023 Miss SVG pageant coming off October 7.

Contestants in the Miss SVG Teen Pageant 2023
Contestants in the Miss SVG Teen Pageant 2023

VINLEC CEO Dr. Vaughn Lewis
VINLEC CEO Dr. Vaughn Lewis

Eventually, the Panorama got underway with a few but significant remarks by Dr. Vaughn Lewis, CEO of VINLEC (St. Vincent Electricity Services Limited), the organization which has been the title sponsor of this junior steelband event for eight years. Lewis himself played pan as a youth, and so could relate to the steelband music art form and the young panists themselves gathered to participate. “We at VINLEC - we are very pleased to be main sponsor of this [the Junior Panorama] family-oriented event. It gives us an opportunity to help develop our youth, and with that comes a great discipline.” Lewis went on to state that music had a profound impact on him from his own days of playing pan at prep school. His personal message to the young steelband musicians regarding the junior Panorama? “I would say to the participants: it is your participation, not necessarily the position; and the exploitation of your God-given talents.”

Isheka DeRiggs, vice-president of the Youlou Pan Movement
Youlou Pan Movement vice-president Isheka DeRiggs

Isheka DeRiggs, vice-president of the Youlou Pan Movement (YPM) - the umbrella body for the steelband movement in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - stepped up to the mic next. Greeting and thanking the crowd on hand, she also explained that though normally called “Junior Pan Fest,” - for 2023, both community and school steelbands came together for this year’s showcase dubbed “Junior Panorama.” The Junior Pan Fest instead will unfold later this year in October as part of the country’s independence activities.

The first band, Symphonix Steel Orchestra, would strike up just after 5:00 p.m., followed by Bishop’s College Kingstown and Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra. Pan lovers heard next from Sandy Bay Secondary School which executed To The Sky sung by Sinclair Mitch Lewis - and arranged by the song’s performer himself. Leaf Elite Steel Orchestra was the penultimate competitor, and finally there were the eventual champions, Starlift Juniors.

Bishop's College Kingstown at the 2023 Junior Panorama
Bishop’s College Kingstown at the 2023 Junior Panorama


Sandy Bay Secondary School at the 2023 Junior Panorama
Sandy Bay Secondary School at the 2023 Junior Panorama

Leaf Elite with nineteen players placed as they played - fifth. The band contained within its ranks some of the youngest participants in the competition, and all dutifully followed their encouraging arranger, Kesslon Wilson, who directed and danced in front the band. He shared afterward in an interview that all but one of them, band captain Mya Alexis, had never before performed in public. “Of this group of nineteen children - only one pan-playing member here today, has ever played on stage....which is the captain....I don’t think any one of them have ever really played - outside of the panyard. And they did this [prepare for the junior Panorama] in  a month and a half,” declared Wilson.

Leaf Elite Steel Orchestra at the 2023 Junior Panorama
Leaf Elite Steel Orchestra at the 2023 Junior Panorama

Five of the bands simply walked on and off stage with their instruments; they used no racks. Bringing the curtains down on the competition, the junior arm of Starlift Steel Orchestra utilized its senior orchestra’s racks, with one even canopied (covered). On stage with his band, arranger Mitch Israel was mouthing and motioning to his players “Dance” and “Smile.”  With the exuberance of youth, and within a musical ‘break,’ two six-bass players at one point sprinted around back from one side of the stage to the other, in an exchange of instruments, arriving just in time to deliver lines on the other’s six-bass pan.

The actual window of competition from the time the first notes were played, until the final  ones were struck - was about 1.75 hours in total.  And it was the job of the panel of five judges: Kevin Brown, Janelle Alleyne, Ken Smart aka “Sun Smart,” Andrew James and Junior Sutherland - to decide the outcome of this junior Panorama. Utilizing the following criteria, each of the six bands vied for the maximum points possible in Arrangement - 40; General Performance - 40; Tone - 10, and; Rhythm - 10. Results were announced one hour after the final band.

Panel of judges at the 2023 Junior Panorama
Panel of judges at the 2023 Junior Panorama

On a perplexing note, members of Starlift Steel Orchestra Juniors, all under-age minors, were sporting brightly-colored T-Shirts with their band’s name on front, but with the name of their “sponsor” - Hennessy - in large print on the back. A globally-renowned premium spirits [alcohol] brand, brazenly advertised on the backs of children? Unacceptable - at best.

Full results follow:

2023 St. Vincent JUNIOR Panorama - RESULTS

Placing / Points Band/ # of Players Selection/
Arranger, et al

** (#6)
Starlift Steel Orchestra Juniors

 All I Need

(Hance John)
Mitchell Israel-Duharte
Mitchell Israel-Duharte

Mario Joseph

Desray Samuel

** (#3)
Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra

 Cocaine Jumbie

(Field Marshal)
Septimus Cain
Septimus Cain

Sherwin Pierre

Keanu Providence

** (#1)
Symphonix Steel Orchestra


Hands In The Air
(Winston Soso)
Jomoro Francis
Jomoro Francis

A. Brown

** (#2)
Bishop’s College Kingstown Steel Orchestra

Afro Caribbean

Kingsley Roberts
Kingsley “Hero” Roberts

Hesron Scott

** (#5)
Leaf Elite Junior Steel Orchestra

(Alston “Becket” Cyrus)
Kesslon Wilson
Kesslon Wilson

Mya Alexis

** (#4)
Sandy Bay Secondary School

 To The Sky
 [Stick Sweetie Riddim]

Sinclair Mitch Lewis
Sinclair Mitch Lewis

Francis Llewellyn

Colin Small

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