PANORAMA 2020 has got off to a scintillating start with the crowning of its first champions in the 2020 Single Pan Bands competition. On Saturday night, defending champions San Juan East Side Symphony delivered a winning performance matched only by Marsicans Steel Orchestra. Following the judges’ tally, both landed atop the table with 284 points each, resulting in a tie for first place.
Kudos are due to the pan players and arrangers Carlon “Panman” Harewood of East Side and Marlon White of Marsicans. Harewood’s arrangement of Lord Kitchener’s “Guitar Pan” and White’s arrangement of Taxi’s “Johnny” evoked memories of their 2016 rivalry when they took their respective bands, Trinidad East Side and Marsicans, to winners’ row as joint champions.
This latest win by San Juan East Side gives Harewood his fifth consecutive championship with three different bands in the Single pan category.
No one could have failed to note the high standard of performance by the 21 bands in Saturday night’s finals with a spread of 34 points between the winners and 21st placed Pan Angels. The quality of some of the country’s top arrangers was on display with an encouraging mix of youth and experience.
With this first competition of Panorama 2020 Pan Trinbago, led by president Beverley Ramsey-Moore, can pat itself for a job well done. When the road ahead is as arduous and as challenging as that facing Pan Trinbago, every little success counts in keeping the team motivated.
Next up is the National Small Conventional Bands Competition with qualifying rounds beginning on December 9. As the competition works its way to the finale of the Large Band competition on February 22, one can only hope that Panorama 2020 will be spared the annual ritual of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Much of this has to do with a lack of money and the anxiety of bands scrambling to attract and keep pan players who secure their own finances by playing for several competing bands in any given Panorama season.
This is hardly ideal and there is a strong lobby for the practice to be banned. However, the financial insecurity of the pan-playing community is a reality which makes it difficult to eliminate the practice without damaging consequences for the competition.
Ultimately, the solution lies in the development of a viable steelband industry that is able to support year-round employment of a substantial number of pan players, arrangers and support staff. An important condition for activating the steelband’s potential for economic development is a functional, focused and effective Pan Trinbago as the representative body.
Notwithstanding the challenges, 2019 has been a good year for pan lovers, if not always so for bands and their players. Throughout the year, the sound of sweet pan has never been too far away, with a rich calendar of events throughout the country as bands demonstrate increased enterprise and entrepreneurship in exploring horizons beyond the annual competition.
As it works towards the climax of Panorama 2020, Pan Trinbago’s challenge now is to build on the success of the Single Pan competition. Our congratulations to the Single Pan finalists and especially the winners.