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Desperadoes Bring Music Back to the Panorama

Ten Commandments of Pan

Jason Peanut Isacc

Jason "Peanut" Isaacs, with co-composer of Ten Commandments of Pan, Ingrid de Peiza

Trinidad - The legendary Desperadoes Steel Orchestra descended from the hills of Laventille to put on one of the more memorable performances in recent times at the 2008 steelband music Panorama championship arena.  Their tune of choice was “The Ten Commandments of Pan” by New York-based arranger/composer/performing artist Jason ‘Peanut’ Issacs, co-written with wife Ingrid de Peiza.

Under the musical direction of noted arranger, the world-renowned Robert Greenidge with the assistance of Beverly Griffith, Desperadoes delivered a jaw-dropping and masterful work - it was indeed a special interpretation and performance.  Greenidge had pulled out all stops, especially for the final phase of competition.  His arrangement merited comparison with that of the magnificent musical themes of the classic Hollywood movie epics.

The song itself was one of the more melodic for the 2008 panorama season, well constructed, and probably pleasing to work with and arrange.  It went over well in terms of listenability, both when vocalized, and when arranged for pan.  It was a savvy selection which brought real music back to the panorama arena, while hailing from the 2008 crop of available tunes, and not harkening back to yesteryear.

The transitions featured in the arrangement thematically stayed within what was obviously part of the concept of the tune, that 'big movie' framework (think back to the original biblical movie epic of the Ten Commandments).  And the players hugged the music with a fervor as they delivered their mighty musical statement with majesty, those commandments on steelpan.

Desperadoes is a musical institution that always had a very special relationship with their home base of Laventille.  And the people instinctively and clearly knew  that 2008 was the year of ‘one of those’ magical arrangements.  They materialized at the Queens Park Savannah in droves, and flowed along with the band at all points in what seemed waves of biblical proportions.  The people of Laventille are always there for Desperadoes, but there is a further nexus that is clearly evident when they recognize that the orchestra is about to accomplish something magnanimous.  This symbiotic relationship is in itself one of the great love affairs of our time.  This was one of those years as the people of Laventille watched and listened as Desperadoes made their mystically musical statement.

Desperadoes Steel Orchestra

Desperadoes on stage at 2008 semi finals of Panorama

Desperadoes entered this year's competition focused, driven and inspired. The steel orchestra moved from eighth position in the preliminaries, to sixth in the semis, on their inexorable march on to the championship round. And although they only achieved fourth position in the eyes of the judges, steelpan music aficionados worldwide were moved and awed by their music, performance and appearance.  Moreover they earned the continued respect  of their fellow competitors and supporters.  Indeed, Desperadoes had done everything to sustain their celebrated reputation and on finals night, fulfilled the highest musical expectations.

Desperadoes, equally respected for their visual imagery and dramatic portrayals left nothing to chance.  For the finals, their onstage presentation included two tablets, referencing the biblical “Ten Commandments” inscribed on stone.  The musicians - all one hundred and twenty - took the stage dressed in regal shepherd attire - mainly in white.  This was an important part of portraying their musical theme of their panorama selection.

And the only thing left was for Moses himself to emerge from within the steelband racks, ‘parting’ both the pannists, then the crowd [red sea]).  And of course, for Desperadoes Steel Orchestra to have gone on to capture the title.

Click here for complete finals results

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