Ainsworth Mohammed, CEO of Exodus Steel Orchestra speaks on Panorama 2012 Up-Close!

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A WST Exclusive

Meet the chief executive officer for the acclaimed Exodus Steel Orchestra, Ainsworth Mohammed. In a frank and candid interview Mr. Mohammed shares his views on a host of issues surrounding Panorama past, present and future. Ainsworth Mohammed is one of the premiere executives in Pan...

WST - Exodus is an organization that commands great respect, both in terms of its musical accomplishments and organizational achievements. What is it that has allowed the Exodus franchise to distinguish itself in this manner?”

Ainsworth M.- “The Band was formed out of PRINCIPLE. Discipline, Commitment and Respect for self and others, are the cornerstones of Exodus's foundation. Clear objectives and strong focus on our image.”

WST - Exodus prides itself on a high standard of excellence and commitment. How have you been able to consistently meet this challenge successfully among your members without a recent banner of a Panorama win?

Exodus CEO Ainsworth Mohammed
Ainsworth Mohammed

Ainsworth M.- “Over the years we have built a strong and committed team who are proud of our achievements, not just in competitions, but [in] the bigger picture of people development and community and national service.

“We may not have been awarded a Panorama victory since 2004, but we are fully aware of the reasons for this and those with "eyes to see" and "ears to hear" are also fully aware.  We also know that the odds are stacked against us for our principled stands on positions which are contentious and the fact that, as an "out-of-town" band, the position is made even more difficult. Notwithstanding, these "adversities" strengthen our resolve!”

WST - You have the great Pelham Goddard at the musical helm - but this year one of the great wheels upon which Exodus turned - the renowned late Pat Bishop - will not be there. What did Pat Bishop mean to the organization?

Ainsworth M.- “Pat Bishop was one of our Musical Directors. Together with Pelham, Exodus was a force to reckon with. Pat knew better than most what it takes to win and to stay at the top. She was Drillmaster, Teacher, Mentor and much more. I always referred to her as the "sculptor" in that she would hammer and chisel an arrangement to make it more musically pleasing to the ear. Pat Bishop was mother, sister, AUNTY and confidante to many of us.

“For 2012, Exodus will pay Tribute to this Giant of a Lady: Pelham has composed a great song in her honour, with lyrics and sung by 3canal, "Aunty Pat."  Pat will live on in our hearts and minds for a very long time!”

WST - Exodus has wisely invested in its future by its support and development of the youth through Exocubs Steel Orchestra. Has there been sufficient support, likewise - by the government - of youth steelband culture and music programs nationally?

Ainsworth M.- “NO! Thank God a few steelbands have had the vision and do great jobs in this regard. birdsong and Renegades also have excellent Youth Programs.  There are others who do not now come to mind.”

WST - What is one of your greatest joys or accomplishments in Pan?

Ainsworth M.- “Several come to mind: witnessing the development and personal growth of our people is foremost. All 4 National Panorama victories and 3 National Steelband Music Festival wins and the 2 World Festival Championships especially in 2005 at Madison Square Garden.  The Caribbean Panorama championship in Grenada and the "Champion of Champions" celebrating 40 Years Of Panorama.  Really too many more to mention here.”

WST - What has disappointed you most in Pan?

Ainsworth M.- “The stagnated development of this great instrument, it's people and the music.” 

WST - What has slowed down the progress of the steelpan music movement in Trinidad and Tobago?

Ainsworth M. - “The absence of the BIG Vision.”

WST - If you could change one thing about panorama, what would that be?

Ainsworth M. - “Remove the categories and revert to a single Panorama Champion and this includes single pan bands. That is "One" for which you asked but there are several other changes which should be explored in the interest of the steelband movement and its people.

“The Authorities should focus on Panorama a lot more.  Panorama should be more attractively presented, packaged and marketed.  The entrance/exit of Bands must be efficient and the way we {bands} present ourselves must be television friendly.  That is one of the reasons Exodus has removed our canopies and tiered our pan trolleys.  The players must be the focal point and canopies restrict visibility.  Canopies were introduced for weather conditions and NOT for acoustics. We had this confirmed through 2 acoustical engineers prior to removing our canopies. The stage can be constructed so that mics are lowered from above to obviate stagehands running around placing mics around the bands. Proper lighting technology and engineers must be employed to enhance the visuals. I am confident that other band leaders and Event Management professionals will have more to add to significantly improve the presentation of Bands for Panorama.”

WST - Has Panorama peaked in Trinidad and Tobago?

Ainsworth M. - “No. There is still a long way to go and a brighter future. PANORAMA IS POWERFUL!”

WST - Why do think Trinidad and Tobago does not have a fully functional entertainment industry that is operating from an international perspective - given all the raw talent the twin islands possess?

Ainsworth M.- “Lack of vision by ALL governments to date! They do not take time to understand and appreciate the contribution that entertainment can make to GDP. A lot of "lip service" is paid for votes!”

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