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Smooth Sailing at 2015 Panorama Musical Game of Thrones - The Good, Bad and Ugly - A WST Review

Trinidad & Tobago National Steelband Panorama 2015

In the age of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram the self-made Pan experts and gurus are popping up everywhere all over the world -- type 140 characters, hit enter and scream ‘Look at me...’  Luckily in Trinidad and Tobago there is Panorama - they do things the old-fashioned way - you’ve got to earn it. And as that late Trinidadian Geoffrey Holder would say:  “Ha Ha Ha Ha”

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - And so another phenomenal chapter has been added in the musical Game of Thrones known as ‘Panorama.’

Once again the greatest steel orchestras in the world convened in fierce contest for their annual rumble on the ‘Big Stage’ in the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain, the capital of ‘The Home Of Pan.’

Hailing from sister isle Tobago, and the North, South, East, and West of Trinidad—the twin-island birthplace of the steelpan instrument—they came for a shot at musical supremacy for some - or an opportunity at fame and renown for others. And of course, the usually slim chance to enter the circle where only Titans and Giants roam - Panorama Champion, Large Steel Orchestra Category.

Trinidad All Stars crossing the Savannah stage - 2015 Carnival
Trinidad All Stars crossing the Savannah stage - 2015 Carnival

It was indeed “Smooth” sailing for Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra in the 2015 edition of Panorama and Carnival on all levels - as they brought the trinity of Carnival -  Mas, Calypso and Pan together for a perfect winning trifecta. They won with an original Calypso Unquestionable penned by one of their own—Clive Telemaque—with specifically his steel orchestra (All Stars) in mind. They triumphed on the greatest platform for Pan and were crowned 2015 Panorama Champions. And they continued their winning ways in the Mas arena as they captured the coveted Mas crown for the second consecutive time as “Band of the Year” with their presentation of “Ships Ahoy At A French Festival.”

But let us back up and examine how we got to this point.

In Pursuit of the Three-peat

Indeed, from the moment Phase II Pan Groove was crowned Panorama champion for the second consecutive time last year (2014), the orchestra’s mission for 2015 was clear.  Win, and become only the second orchestra in the history of Panorama to three-peat. In the past there have been fourteen opportunities in the competition to do just that. Only the mighty Renegades, under the musical directive of arranger Dr. Jit Samaroo, have accomplished the feat.

As focused as the Len “Boogsie” Sharpe-led Phase II obviously was  in its undertaking, the other orchestras were equally motivated to play the role of spoilers. In particular, Trinidad All Stars clearly relished the opportunity to shut down any historical aspirations Phase II contemplated or entertained. After all, they (Trinidad All Stars), lost to their chief nemesis, Phase II, last year 2014 by a single point. 

The Good

The Contenders

Five previous multiple-winning Panorama champion arrangers in their own right - Ray Holman of Skiffle Steel Orchestra, Pelham Goddard of Exodus Steel Orchestra, Robert Greenidge of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, Trinidad All Stars led by Leon “Smooth” Edwards, and Len “Boogsie” Sharpe of the defending champions Phase II Pan Groove - entered this year’s finals contest in a field comprising ten (10) contenders overall.

Arrangers Duvone Stewart of Renegades, Arddin Herbert of Invaders, Liam Teague of Silver Stars, Clarence Morris of Tropical Angel Harps and Ken “Professor” Philmore of Fonclaire rounded out the field with their respective contending steel orchestras in the finals.


  • The ‘popular’ music of Trinidad and Tobago did not make it into the finals.
    Take a page out of the New York and UK Panoramas.

  • Players playing in more than one band in the same category. This is a competition, right?

  • The Panorama is way too long. The event did not conclude until after 4:00 a.m. the next morning...


Playing to the Gods or the Judges

Some of the younger contestants/arrangers are gradually showing signs of truly understanding the nature of Panorama. It’s not about the judges - it’s about “taking the judging out of the judges’ hands”—as the late great master arranger Clive Bradley was so great at vocalizing and musically accomplishing—with a fantastic piece of music and fitting performance that cannot be denied. Many of the presentations displayed flashes of this concept - but could not maintain it for a full 8-minute arrangement.

Others had tempo issues in terms of some playing too slow - thereby removing any “energy”  from the presentation and, moreover, adversely affecting the tonal quality of the instruments. Ironically or surprisingly the majority of bands on the night played too slowly. The majority of flagwomen and flagmen did not break a sweat. In the compromise for obtaining clarity (especially in the quest to ensure that the judges hear, appreciate, and thereby adjudicate as accurately as possible under prevailing circumstances) by slowing the pace - the “wow” factor was lost - musical segments that would have been “wow” became “nice;” “stunning” became “not bad;” “ah ha and a smile” became a “yawn;” and “boring” became simply “unbearable wandering.”

At this level of competition (final night), worries/concerns of execution of parts at a slightly accelerated pace is a non-issue. Some of the bands should have called an audible, changed their game plan after hearing the bands preceding them, and ‘up-ed’ their tempo a few clicks. We suspect it would have greatly enhanced their panorama fortunes and subsequent placement.

In this year’s Finals, few rhythm racks were ‘rocking’ or looked like they were about to tip over. Nobody’s racks looked like they were in danger of rolling off the stage. Folks across the board were conservative and played it real safe. Disappointing! Like David Rudder said this is “High Mas” and in this Panorama Game of Thrones you are talking to the Gods musically - let it rip - hold nothing back. And be sure to give the ancestors their dance with a heavy dose of the Ancient Rhythms.

The Judges

After all the judges are human - there are only five senses you have to address...

Did you drop that music passage that made them have a cold sweat or a hot flash? Did you drop that passage that made them lunge for their water, or require a taste for more? Did you drop that passage that makes them fix their eyeglasses, or remove them outright as they dropped their pens and leaned forward to get deeper into the music? And did you give them that visual that connects with their spirit and makes their eyes widen as put their glasses back on to focus? What did you say - there are no points for visuals at Panorama? Okay - keep thinking that the next time you “tie” in a position with another steel orchestra, when the final results are announced on Panorama night... LMAO

The Payoff --

Exhilarating joy, paralyzing numbness, excruciating pain

Da Music

Trinidad All Stars

Trinidad All Stars - Panorama 2015
Trinidad All Stars at 2015 Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph

They came out of the box swinging. Declared their tune early enough in the season to give folks time to familiarize themselves with the tune. Unquestionable by Clive Telemaque was going to be both theme and concept for the organization for 2015. Trinidad All Stars marketed the concept flawlessly on their Facebook page to the world. Champion arranger Leon “Smooth” Edwards laid out a typical Trinidad All Stars arrangement that would capture the spirit of All Stars players, its fans, and the favor of the judges. From the first flurry of notes the front line is barking with “unquestionable” confidence that sets the tone of modest invisibility. “Smooth” is careful to never allow the band to lose that drive and quiet aggression. This year, more so than in the past, “Smooth” skillfully never leaves the signature lines of the tune throughout. Keeping the listener all the while in a comfort zone, he created - that is - weaved, with automatic and not so subliminal familiarity. Of course like most of the greats he is a master of voicings that are, in this case, signature to his vision and the unique sound of Trinidad All Stars.

The steel orchestra put in the work, time and dedication that resulted in them leading the pack by 2.5 points after the Panorama Semi-Finals. From that point it was a simple strategy - ‘catch us if you can but you will get no help from us’ - Trinidad All Stars was not going to beat itself.

Trinidad All Stars 
Trending   1st - 2015 | 2nd - 2014 | 2nd - 2013
In a word - “prepared”  

Upload Audio - Download Music - Trinidad All Stars - Unquestionable
semi finals performance

Phase II

Phase II logoTrailing by only 2.5 points coming out of the Panorama Semi-Finals, it seemed like a perfect setup for the defending champions to come from behind and overtake Trinidad All Stars and post their 8th Panorama win. But as we all know now, that did not happen. In fact, uncharacteristically for Phase II the gap widened to six points. So what happened? Well, psychologically it is somewhat difficult to get yourself in the mindset to lay down a performance to out-perform an experienced champion juggernaut like Trinidad All Stars, when you are playing in an early position like number two and they are playing behind you in position five. But that is not an excuse, after all, you are the defending champion and your name is “Phase II” - and you have done it before. 

Phase II - Panorama 2015
Phase II at 2015 Finals

The Finals performance did lack the energy of the Semi Finals. And the tempo seemed a tad bit too slow for the night; it made the band look and sound conservative - for them. They didn’t ‘knock it out of the box’ and put it out of reach. This was the general consensus of many of Phase II’s fans as they posted their feelings about the performance immediately on social media outlets.

In 2014 Boogsie ran a boot-leg play on them... showed the judges and public just over six minutes, and then released a musical barrage on everyone in the finals. That strategy did not work this year.

Nursery rhymes in a Phase II Panorama tune - No! No! No! No! Happiness will not be remembered as one of Phase II's all time classics.

But let’s be clear: champion arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe left no doubt about why he is one of the all-time greats, is among the titans of Panorama Music, and a phenomenal composer in the pan music genre overall. As “Boogsie” explored concepts and variations of his song Happiness, there were musical passages that he introduced that are straight-up cold-blooded and could only come from the mind of Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. It is no secret that when “Boogsie” operates on the cutting-edge, no one comes close. But now he has added a level of sensitivity with some seamless killer transitions that are sometimes both thematic and/or rhythmic, that leave you shaking your head - in a “Happy” way of course. Man, that bass work was off-the-hook. Like the late, great legendary drummer Max Roach told WST (When Steel Talks) - ““Boogsie” Sharpe reminds me of “Bird” (Charlie Parker); you never know when he will do something magical.”

Phase II
Trending  2nd - 2015 | 1st - 2014 | 1st - 2013  
In a word - “enchanting”

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semi finals performance


Renegades Steel Orchestra logoTheir tune of choice Jam Dem Hard pretty much explains how they came out of the gates from the opening count. Although Renegades found themselves for the Panorama Finals in the unenviable situation of playing in position one, it was not an impossible task to win from that position. And to their credit they were able to secure a high enough score to tie for third. Plus they had a secret weapon - the one and only Denise “Saucy Wow” Belfon as their flag woman. Ms. Belfon, by the way, was the vocalist of “Jam Dem Hard.” In the song Band From Space the aliens explain how for years they were studying Earth to learn the finer details of ‘wining like Denise Belfon’ among other things.

Renegades - Panorama 2015
Renegades at 2015 Finals

Duvone Stewart, Renegades’ arranger, had them cracking, and importantly, believing. Duvone Stewart got it, gets it and knows it. He has the skill set of a crafty veteran. In this song Duvone deployed a series of trademark key changes, mode changes, theme changes and rhythm changes as part of his musical storytelling technique and unique musical identity. He is a wizard loaded with the authentic knowledge and instincts of bacchanal, while speaking French, Spanish, English, African, East Indian and Jab Jab - via melody and rhythm.

He understands the music, the people and the traditional and cultural music queues. Moreover he knows when and how to use them while simultaneously wrapping them in youthful musical playfulness going forward. Duvone Stewart’s name joining Panorama titans row in the future should not be a surprise - as long as he remains humble, hungry and focused - he clearly has the talent.

Trending  3rd - 2015 | 3rd - 2014 | 3rd - 2013  
In a word - “ready”

Upload Audio - Download Music - Renegades - Jam Dem Hard
semi finals performance


Exodus Steel Orchestra band logo - When Steel TalksLed by veteran champion arranger Pelham Goddard Exodus’ 2015 performance came across at times as flawless. Awesome execution, perfectly placed accents, exact spreads, swells, dynamics and voicings; great storytelling that could be understood in any time, on any planet. Totally by the book. And such is the nature of Exodus (XO). They are the standard bearer of Panorama. In this musical ‘Game of Thrones’ - Exodus is that organization that sets the bar of the crown-wearer each year. Their consistency in greatness, performance and attention to musical Panorama details assures us by default a great champion every year. Now, as to why that discipline and professionalism have not resulted in Championship glory in the last ten years is an obvious source of frustration for this great band from the East.

Exodus - Panorama 2015
Exodus at 2015 Finals

XO plays it by the book. They study the rules, point allocations and strategize the best way to gain maximum points from the judges without compromising the essence of the nuances and sweet pan music that makes XO, XO. In fact as we re-listen to XO’s finals performance it is indeed one of those WST’s ‘just listen’ moments. Beautiful music. Soulful and inspiring. Great performance. One still marvels at how tight and clean Exodus is year after year.

This year XO came with a Pelham Goddard-2015 tune De Puna Band. The lyrics of that song tell it all. “I am a socaman with a pan, in this great Panorama land...” Pelham is truly one of the great Panorama music masters of our time. 

Exodus continues their canopies-less approach. No one will argue with the benefits of being able to see the players perform but there is a clear sonic difference compared to other bands.  And there will always be for the near-conceivable future, the psychological disadvantage of not seeing those old war chariots roll up on stage. Again this is a musical Game of Thrones were one man’s ugly is another man’s beautiful. Absolutely, no prisoners allowed.

As one examines the “Judging Criteria” it is difficult to see how any band can out-point Exodus in almost any category - because they are just that good. 

A ‘tip’ to XO:  you have walked with the Gods in the past - remember that winners play to Gods on Panorama Finals night, not the judges. So no matter what the judges said in their comments - take it with a grain of salt.

check Pelham Goddard's message "Pan is Carnival"

Side note - If you are a director and you are looking for ‘the real deal’ for your students and program, contact Pelham - he is one of the truly great masters -  he also has all his arrangements and music scored.

Trending  3rd - 2015 | 5th - 2014 | 4th - 2013  
In a word - “professional” 

Upload Audio - Download Music - Exodus - De Puna Band
semi finals performance

Silver Stars

Silver Stars Steel Orchestra band logo - When Steel TalksLed by the immensely talented Liam Teague, Silver Stars appears to have settled into their new identity, and the transition from the late champion arranger Edwin Pouchet now completed.

In the past Liam has said that he doesn’t like the competitive nature of Panorama. One’s immediate reaction to this statement is - So? - And? - What the hell does that have to do with price of tea in China?

Panorama is an intensely personal and emotional competition for all involved. People’s music is connected to their soul. And Liam knows this. So while such statements may sound good to the ears outside of Trinidad  & Tobago, it is total nonsense within the Trinidad & Tobago circle and cultural enclave.

The late master champion arranger Clive Bradley always said “The judges can’t judge me” - and privately told us (WST) many a time, he cared not about judges - but, he said, he cared dearly and deeply about what the people of Laventille thought and felt - and what his players thought - and as he said, “They want to win every time, all the time.” And in this regard Bradley was quite prepared to - and he did - stand in front of the band, and ‘conduct the judges’ on what they should be listening to, and ‘OK’ - if that’s what it took to win.

In this regard, what a pleasant surprise and shock WST got when we heard Liam’s arrangement of Edwin’s Legacy performed by Silver Stars Steel Orchestra. Liam started dropping musical science from the get-go. “Take that” - bang - and “take that” - bang, bang - “I got some more for you” - bang, bang bang - “and just in case you didn’t hear me” bang- bang - bang - bang. Only thing left for Liam to do was jump in front of the judges and scream “Yo, do you hear me now”?!!

Silver Stars - Panorama 2015
Silver Stars at 2015 Finals

This year Liam’s ‘arranger voice’ and style became more clearly defined. Indeed a difficult place to be - in that recognised  Edwin Pouchet and popular musical passages and clichés were interwoven in the music fabric of this story - after all the tune was about the latter’s Legacy. Liam was quite successful in finding the right balance in such an undertaking. Many have gotten slaughtered in the past attempting this maneuver.  Amrit Samaroo found himself with a similar challenge as he tackled Dr. Samaroo for Supernovas Steel Orchestra this year.

Silver Stars was one of the few orchestras which got their tempo right on Panorama Finals night. They stated the melody beautifully in the opening salvo. One could hear Liam making the statement - ‘yes, I do speak classical fluently but I’za Trini still to da bone.’ His Shango and East Indian movements were short but terrific. He showed an ability to go dark - melancholy, if needed, as part of his repertoire. This will serve him well in the future.

From the count it was non-stop action for Silver Stars. There was quite a bit packed into those eight minutes. Liam’s transitions even at that pace were flawless and in good taste. You got the impression that Silver Stars could accelerate - stop on a dime, hit reverse and bank left and dive without breaking a sweat - turn around and calmly ask - ‘you ah-ight - are you still with me?’ 

For those people who may have answered ‘my heart can’t take it,’ it would have been great to see what Liam, or more so Silver Stars, could do with silence and rhythm. They are not in the class of, say, Desperadoes - where they can beat you, and beat you bad by simply rolling one note and letting the rhythms enchant and swoon you -- yet. We don’t know if Liam trusts his engine room to be disciplined enough to pull that off.

Indeed this year, in addition to his cerebral musical stimulation, the associate professor (Liam) had hips moving, hands swaying, heads bobbing and swooning, butts rocking, and feet jumping -- and belly wining.

Liam showed great growth within the Panorama enclave, and Silver Stars showed they believe. Liam’s arrangement clearly stated he ‘wants to win.’ He didn’t come to the finals to lose and furthermore he was not interesting in being the whipping boy any longer. Can’t wait to hear Liam Teague and Silver Stars in 2016.

Silver Stars  
Trending  3rd - 2015 | 6th - 2014 | 8th - 2013  
In a word - “forward-bound”

Upload Audio - Download Music - Silver Stars - Edwin's Legacy
semi finals performance

Tropical Angel Harps

Tropical Angel Harps logoYou made WST stop and say “What!  Yo, Mr. Morris, you’re a Bad Man!” You made us really embrace a performance of a tune we were not enthralled with - Pan For Beethoven. Folks need to stop treating you and Tropical Angel Harps Steel Orchestra like second-class citizens and give you your musical due.

Truthfully, Tropical Angel Harps has been on the musical rise for a few years now but their placement and scores have not reflected this evolution. This year, however, the Panorama Gods felt you, and how you embraced those ancient rhythms. Tropical Angel Harps could not be denied. 

Tropical Angel Harps - you, more so than any other band on the night, captured the spirit of Panorama & Carnival. You had WST dancing up in here. Moreover you gave the Flagwoman material and musical movements that she could work with.

Tropical Angel Harps - Panorama 2015
Tropical Angel Harps at 2015 Finals

From a musical standpoint your seamless transitions, momentum-building runs without resorting to mindless tricks reminded us that ‘there is a story being told here.’  Your use of ‘call and response’ between the different ranges of the steelpan instrument, was effectively done more than anyone else on the night. Your engine room held it down. Your variations on the main theme had to put a smile on the ancestors’ faces. 

Tropical Angel Harps, you not only survived this year’s Panorama Game of Thrones, you thrived. Coming in only a point behind the log jam at third says a lot and cannot be dismissed. One has to wonder if you were tighter and cleaner in the style of Exodus - where you might have landed in this Panorama 2015. However what you gave up this year in performance technique, you made-up with spirit and a boss arrangement.

Take a bow, Tropical Angel Harps - you were good. Nah, you were very, very good!

Tropical Angel Harps  
Trending  6th - 2015 | 10th - 2014 | DNP - 2013  
In a word - “determined”

Upload Audio - Download Music - Tropical Angel Harps - Pan For Beethoven
semi finals performance


Invaders Steel Orchestra logoThis year Arddin Herbert led Invaders into the Panorama Finals with Baron’s This Melody Sweet as their tune of choice. A curious one, as the large steel orchestras tend to stay away from going ‘retro.’ The judges have not shown good fortune on any large band that has gone down that route.

Arddin is about having fun and a good time. He wants his players to enjoy their Panorama experience - but don’t let that fool you. He is coming to musically beat the living you-know-what out of the competition. With New York Panorama championships under his belt, he is a veteran with lots of experience and knows what works and what doesn’t.

Invaders - Panorama 2015
Invaders at 2015 Semi Finals

All that being said, Arddin Herbert put together a very competent and thoughtful arrangement of this Baron tune. Invaders executed the arrangement well but could not secure better than 7th place on this Finals night. In part, it might have been a case of it being crowded at the top, or the judges not being into old tunes.

WST would definitely recommend that large steel orchestras keep away from going ‘retro;’ you are not doing yourself any favors. A band that goes ‘retro’ is not only competing against the other bands in the field, but also against the band and arranger who may have won, or made that song popular or a signature in the past. In this case with “This Melody Sweet,” you’re competing against Clive Bradley (Metro Steel Orchestra - New York Panorama 1991). It was hard enough beating Bradley when he was alive - it would be damn near impossible to beat him—in the minds of the judges—now that he is an ancestor...

Trending 7th - 2015 | 7th - 2014 | 6th - 2013
In a word - “spirited”  

Upload Audio - Download Music - Invaders - This Melody Sweet
semi finals performance


Desperadoes Steel Orchestra logoWhen you close your eyes and just listen, it is unmistakably Desperadoes that you are listening to performing their tune of choice Pan Hooray. The characteristic musical trademark of a champion arranger Robert Greenidge created an arrangement that comes through front and center. The Desperadoes touch, sound - still there. The storytelling and germane musical movements are still there. So what’s wrong? Nothing! The correct question is what is different?

Desperadoes - Panorama 2015
Desperadoes at 2015 Finals

Desperadoes Steel Orchestra was always about more than Clive Bradley or Robert Greenidge at the musical helm.

It was, in part, an attitude and spirit that overwhelmed their opponents, the audiences and even judges - while empowering supporters and music aficionados overall. That attitude let everyone know ‘you were fighting for second place;’ first place, and nothing else, belonged to Desperadoes. 

In the past, Desperadoes had the other steel orchestras seeing ghosts long before they came down from the hill.  A heavy dose of self-assuredness that ‘greatness is in me... not bestowed upon me’ is again needed as the band moves through these challenging times. 

Robert Greenidge’s arrangement was superb. Very good storytelling and masterful work. He is a champion arranger.

However, it may be time to deploy a new strategy.  One that, if successful, will force the whole large band Panorama field to react to Desperadoes. Choose a popular tune like Ah Feeling and, coming from a large, legendary, champion steel orchestra -  you automatically get the whole nation of Trinidad & Tobago singing and dancing behind you. Robert Greenidge can arrange anything. Of course, such a move is reeked with danger as the whole thing could blow up in your face. Judges can be fickle to such moves. But you know the saying - true madness is doing the same thing under the same conditions, and expecting different results.

Trending 8th - 2015 | 4th - 2014 | 6th - 2013
In a word - “hovering”  

Upload Audio - Download Music - Desperadoes - Pan Hooray
semi finals performance


Fonclaire Steel Orchestra logoGreat expectations and emotions running high in a pressure situation can sometimes get the best of us. Evidently there are some things said by Ken “Professor” Philmore the arranger for Fonclaire, after the 2015 Panorama results were out, that, on reflection he might not want to air in public.

Fonclaire - Panorama 2015
Fonclaire at 2015 Finals

This was the 50th year anniversary for the great band from Southern Trinidad.  “Professor” put together a beautiful arrangement encompassing elements of funk and soul - the musical foundational elements of Fonclaire Steel Orchestra as they performed “Sweet 50.”   “Sweet 50” was sung by Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart and composed by Mark Loquan & Ken “Professor” Philmore.

Unfortunately, in the judges’ ears Fonclaire could come no higher than a very disappointing 9th for the organization. The blow was even more pronounced because Fonclaire went into the Panorama Finals with the knowledge that they had placed 5th in the Semi Finals, and only a quite-reachable 6 points behind the leader - in theory.

While there were many outstanding passages in this arrangement - many do not believe this was another “Pan by Storm” scenario - a time and performance some years aback where many had left the competition with heads shaking and screaming WTF just happened here.

Fonclaire’s fireworks-filled finale erupting immediately following the performance, celebrating its 50th year and what was hoped would be the championship that night, was thought by many on hand to be prolonged.  There were comments in this regard, and one can only wonder if the judges’ marks could have been perhaps influenced one way or another—good or bad—by the ‘extended’ explosive display.

Trending  9th - 2015 | 9th - 2014 | 8th - 2013  
In a word - “frustrated”

Upload Audio - Download Music - Fonclaire - Sweet 50
semi finals performance


Skiffle Steel OrchestraEven though Skiffle came in at position ten in the Finals by the judges’ account, one is left with intrigue and much respect as one listens at what is being accomplished by the orchestra as it performs this Ray Holman arrangement.  Only Ray Holman has the ability to turn the Big Stage at the Savannah into his personal outdoor theatre featuring a musical encompassing all the drama, trials and joys of Trinidad & Tobago life in the midst of a Panorama Game of Thrones competition.

This year the song was another Holman composition - Celebration, and whether you sat in your seat with your arms folded and head bobbing, or had hands in air swinging from left to right, or you were taking a little slow wine, or standing doing the Wop or the Dougie - Samba - Foxtrot - Twerking or Skanking -- you were moved.

Skiffle - Panorama 2015
Skiffle at 2015 Finals

We were fed a steady dose of awesome orchestrations and syncopated dynamics that exacted a clarity just not found in anyone else’s arrangements. Ray brings a sense of purpose with a musical language that, while totally Trinidadian, can be understood by anyone anywhere in the world. Moreover you could drop into your own native dance without skipping a beat and join the ‘Celebration.’

The spreads that Ray uses across the whole family of steelpan instruments in Skiffle’s orchestra to enhance his available palette of sonic colors result in a beautiful musical immersion, as he paints a tapestry of joy and hope in this moment of merriment. And when Ray ‘busts a move’ into the lavway and breakaway, Mr. Holman becomes “Mr. Fete” himself (who would have thunk it), embracing tradition and culture with no funny business. All the while giving the ancestors their homage and dance with the ancient rhythms, resulting in a play that encompassed all of Trinidad & Tobago’s musical possibilities, and leaves the listener in awe and an impressive state of mind.

The late great master arranger Clive Bradley said it was Ray Holman’s arrangement of “Penny Lane” that first not only made him take the steelpan seriously, but opened his [Bradley’s] mind to the possibilities of the steel orchestra. 50-plus Panorama years later, Ray is still opening our minds to the possibilities of the steel orchestra. Oh yea, distinctly Trinbagonian with a universal reach.

Trending 10th - 2015 | 7th - 2014 | 5th - 2013  
In a word - “captivating”

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semi finals performance

Medium & Small category

Pan Elders - Panorama 2015
Pan Elders at 2015 Finals

There is so much to say about the medium and small categories but there is simply not enough time. February is a short month. But suffice to say there was some great music produced here. In the Medium category it was like a New York Panorama rematch/reunion - where we experienced some future masterpieces created just this past Summer. Terrance “BJ” Marcelle, Amrit Samaroo, Duvone Stewart, Leon “Foster” Thomas, Seion Gomez - along with Yohan Popwell, Ken “Professor” Philmore and Arddin Herbert just to name a few. We will say that Leon “Foster” Thomas continues to impress with his work, expansively displayed with ‘Say, Say’ for Katzenjammers. A great follow-up to his ‘In De Minor’ with Sonatas just months earlier; the man to watch. He, along with Liam Teague and Amrit are among those expanding the musical vocabulary relative to the Panorama arena.


Panorama Broadcasts

Exodus on the road for Carnival 2015
Exodus on the road for Carnival 2015

In what has to be considered comic relief played out on an international stage by a ship of not-ready-for-prime-time fools masquerading as Carnival and Panorama broadcast leaders and original thinkers in broad daylight, almost every aspect of the Trinidad Carnival broadcast became an episode in “much less than” 1080 HD - watching into the face of a crying clown.  You didn’t know if you should laugh or cry. You simply could not make this stuff up. The only thing left was for it to snow in Trinidad. One to had ask - is there anyone in charge?

Just the people saying ‘you were awful’ is good enough for WST. Most of you ‘professionals in your field’ need not to come back next year, and be let anywhere near a broadcast product. We will not repeat the things that are being said about CNMG and some of the other broadcasters on Facebook and other social media; we have young people on our site. LOL... By the way your apology got people even more pissed-off.

Yet, not even this could permanently interrupt or diminish the magnificence of the event known as Panorama. And yes - there were many attempts to...

The Band from Space and The Greens

As we said before - many in the galaxy were already mighty upset over the dismal and poor earthly broadcast quality of the Panorama emanating from Trinidad and Tobago.

Band from spaceWhen that Band from Space hovered over the Queen’s Park Savannah venue in ‘cloaked mode’ to take in the 2015 Panorama Semi Finals live, they noticed the disconnect going on in the “Greens.”  They wanted nothing to interrupt their enjoyment of the Panorama. After all they had traveled many light years to get there. Furthermore, the ‘Band From Space’ was unhappy that some in the galaxy might relate their natural body color (green) with this farce ongoing in ‘the Greens...’

As Trinidad Express editor Deborah John said in her article  “Sweet pan ...and the ‘noisy’ Greens” - “The Greens, not just with rhythm sections, but sound systems, air-conditioned tents, premium bars, and security guards. When you are in there you have no idea of what’s going on on stage. But it’s not fair to the pan players after their many late nights into early morn of rehearsal to have to play in this kind of atmosphere.”  read more - see more

birdsong Steel Orchestra had been onstage and their musical transmissions were being interrupted by noise on the Greens, so for the Finals the ‘Band From Space’ came with their zap guns and phasers (not set on ‘stun’) intent on rectifying the situation.

Fortunately for all involved, just at that moment, Renegades, who would play first, took the stage. Denise Belfon, an intergalactic favorite was spotted as the flag woman for Renegades on stage. Not wishing to miss a minute of Miss Belfon in her element - the ‘Band From Space’ withdrew their WMDs and beamed themselves immediately into the Grand Stands. Whew!


The Panorama Finals is the place where the Titians and Giants of Pan meet and compete for the title of Panorama Champion. It is first-name only for instant recognition around the world, once one steps into this exclusive club.

And as we have said before - Hate it, Love it, but - you can’t ignore it. Panorama in Trinidad & Tobago has produced some of the greatest musical moments and pieces of our time.

Past Panorama Winners

Past Panorama Winners

Steelband Wins Years
Desperadoes 10 1966, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2000
Renegades 9 1982, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997
Trinidad All Stars 9 1973, 1980, 1981, 1986, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015
Phase II Pan Groove 7 1987, 1988, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2014
Exodus 4 1992, 2001, 2003, 2004
Harmonites 4 1968, 1971, 1972, 1974
Starlift 3 1969, 1971, 1978
North Stars 2 1963, 1964
Cavaliers 2 1965, 1967
Silver Stars 2 2009, 2010
Hatters 1 1975
NuTones 1 1998
    steelpan on flag Trinidad
Steelband Wins Years



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