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Silver Stars and Steel Xplosion Triumph for Steelband Panorama 2010

Trinidad and Tobago - The much-anticipated Trinidad & Tobago National Panorama Finals featuring the Medium and Large conventional steel orchestra categories, got off to an auspicious beginning with the Genesis Pans (or “G-Pans” as they are more commonly called) front and center.  Though almost an hour after the official start of 6:00 p.m. Trinidad time (5:00 p.m. EST [Eastern Standard Time]) - around 6:48 p.m., the country’s national anthem performed by thirty-five panists of the National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO), heralded what was to be an evening of scintillating steel orchestra performances for final night 2010.  The NSSO, formed in 2007, utilizes only G-Pans, a fact proudly alluded to in the opening statements.  Recently-installed Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz then blessed the evening with a brief prayer, and was followed by another short NSSO showcase on stage at Port-of-Spain’s Queen’s Park Savannah also known as ‘the Big Yard.’

Trinidad’s sister isle of Tobago had a bumper year in the 2010 Steelband Panorama finals, with five of the ten bands competing in the medium category calling the island home - a first for them.  Their sixth entry was Redemption Sound Setters performing in the large category.  And it was Tobago’s own Katzenjammers which, shortly after 7:00 p.m. local time, struck the opening notes to kick off what would be a fierce night of steelband competition.

With ten steel orchestras in each category vying for millions of dollars in prizes, it would be almost eight hours later before the curtains came down on the actual performances shortly before 3:00 a.m. with Harmonites Steel Orchestra.  At stake for the first prize in both categories were purses of $600,000 TT - (USD $96,463) - medium orchestra, and $1,000,000 TT - (USD  $159,489) - large orchestra.

Two of the five Tobago medium band finalists went home with first and third place.  Steel Xplosion playing Carlton ‘Zanda’ Alexander’s arrangement of the very popular “Radica,” maintained their lead out of the preliminaries, semi finals and ultimately triumphed on final night.  Basking in the top three was sister band Katzenjammers which delivered Edwin Pouchet’s arrangement of his own composition, “Lightning Strikes Twice.”  Sound Specialists of Laventille held on to second place with Ken Philmore’s arrangement of “Surrender.”  The latter and Katzenjammers each collected $550,000 TT - (USD $88,424.440) and $500,000 TT - (USD $80,385), respectively.  Medium bands were required to take the stage with no more than 90 musicians.

In the large band category Silver Stars dazzled for 2010, copping the prestigious Trinidad and Tobago Steelband Panorama championship title for the second year in a row, and in only their third appearance as a large band - which reverted to a maximum complement of 120 musicians this year.  Prior to 2008, Silver Stars had completed in the medium band category.  Coming out of second place in the semi finals, the band triumphantly changed places with Phase II Pan Groove which led the charge up until then.  With arranger Edwin Pouchet’s own composition “Battle Zone” - the Tragarete Road-based band trounced Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and Phase II’s “Pan Army” leaving them in second place.  Another hot crowd favorite, Trinidad All Stars, under the arranging baton of their long-time arranger Leon “Smooth” Edwards declared that “Large Is Large” with music written by Edwards; they clinched the third spot.  Their winnings were $1,000,000 TT - (USD  $159,489), $700,000 TT - (USD $111,642) and $650,000 TT - (USD $103,668), respectively.

Adjudicators announced for the large steel orchestras included Bernadette Roberts, Jeanette Johnson, Jocelyn Sealey, Lambert Phillip, Marceline Peters and Rosalyn Dimes.  Medium category bands were adjudicated by Lorna Conyette, Merle Albino-de Coteau, Michelle Dowrich, Richard Pierre, Sherry Ann Saunders and Stephanie Power.

Interestingly, the top three large bands held on to the identical slots they claimed in last year’s final night competition; Silver Stars, Phase II Pan Groove and Trinidad All Stars secured the first, second and third places in 2009.  And additionally, bands from Trinidad’s “Northern Region” held a lock on the top five spots for 2010 - as was also the case in 2009; the only change was Invaders Steel Orchestra entering into that top five, while Desperadoes dropped to position seven.

And for the second time in the history of Trinidad & Tobago’s steelband Panorama dating back since 1963 - (the first was in 2009) - the top three positions in the competition, have been claimed by bands performing the original compositions of their respective arrangers.

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