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Trinidad & Tobago Panorama 2009 - HOME

Sforzata & Arima Golden Symphony take Top Honors in 2009 National Panorama for Medium
and Small Steel Orchestras

Arrangers Yohan Popwell and Terrance “BJ” Marcelle
prove their musical mettle in the final phase

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Trinidad - Unlike the old days when panorama competitions ran much later into the wee hours of the morning, results for the finals of the medium and small steel orchestra categories were signed off on and delivered by 1:00 AM.  Yohan Popwell, arranging Bandoleros for Sforzata Steel Orchestra in the medium category, renewed his winning ways with the band, leading them in 2009 to their third championship title in five years with 473 points.  Popwell (pictured) first took up the arranging reigns back in 2005; and in the two years they did not triumph - 2006 and 2007 - that collaboration still bore fruit with the orchestra coming in at a strong third position overall.

Two points down and in second position was Buccooneers Steel Orchestra from the sister isle of Tobago.  Their arranger was Seion Gomez, who moved from arranging in the small band category, up to both the medium and large arenas.  Buccooneer’s scintillating delivery of Dangerous edged out last year’s champions, Sound Specialists of Laventille who held on to the third spot with a score of 468.

Not to be outdone in skill, passion or exuberance, the small steel orchestras also shone for the evening, with arranger Terrance “BJ” Marcelle (pictured) ably steering Arima Golden Symphony to 439 points and the winning spot, with his arrangement and the orchestra’s execution of A Blue Crescendo - a decision that was well-received by the crowd.  That song, A Blue Crescendo - an ode and tribute to Superblue - one of Trinidad and Tobago's top soca bards - worked well for the four top-scoring bands in the small steel orchestra category, who each performed their most credible arrangements of the selection, composed and sung by De Original d'Fosto (Winston Scarborough).  In the wake of champions Arima Golden Symphony and racking up 434, 432 and 431.5 points respectively, were San City Steel Symphony, Tornadoes Steel Orchestra and Panasonic Connection.

Laventille Serenaders who were third coming into the finals but ran seventh in the final tally, took the stage first, just after the official 7:15 p.m. opening of the evening with a noteworthy rendering by one of their members of the National Anthem.  Katzenjammers, from Trinidad's sister island, Tobago - and the third of the island’s three orchestras to make it to the finals of the national panorama competition in the medium category - struck the last note in the competition at 12:35 a.m. early Wednesday February 19.  They capped a performance-filled evening that featured eight bands each in both competition categories in the showcase of the country's 2009 National Panorama conventional steel orchestras.  As is always the case for the finals, the orchestras pulled out all the stops in their efforts to be captivating not only in performance, but also in visual presentation.

It was back in 2004 when Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold announced the change in the regular panorama competition, instituting the categorization of small, medium and large for the annual event, which was non-existent before.  Since then, it has been interesting to watch the anxious and determined interplay of the bands as they jockeyed for honors in the two smaller categories over the past six years.  One of the main disappointments for the 2009 season would have occurred in the small steel orchestra category, with the inability of Merrytones Steel Orchestra to make it into the finals, and barely playing their way into the semis.  It was also the first time in several years they were without regular arranger Seion  Gomez.  With him at the helm, Merrytones had secured two of three consecutive championships (2005—2006), and second and third place for 2007 and 2008, respectively.  Their first title in 2004 was with then-arranger Duvone Stewart.

With the 2009 panorama finals over for the small and medium orchestras, focus now shifts to the finals in the large conventional orchestra category, coming off also at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain, on Saturday February 21, 2009.

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