Preliminary judging in the big band category ended on a high note for steelbands in the South/Central Region on Wednesday night, with four of the five bands adjudicated securing a place in Sunday’s semi-finals.
Judges trekked from Chaguanas to La Brea on Wednesday night as T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps, CAL Skiffle, Antillean All Stars, NLCB Fonclaire and NGC La Brea Nightingales competed for a place in the 2020 Panorama finals.
All Stars, which has transitioned from the small to large band category, finished in 17th place with its Glen “Zola” Williams arrangement of Kees's Savannah Grass. It failed to get through to the semis.
At Angel Harps Pan Palace, the night started with the national anthem and prayers for the players, the country and its leaders to cope with the negatives in society. Prayers were also offered to save the Pan Trinbago family “from evil and wickedness in the world”, before judges Michelle Dowrich, Lambert Phillip, Richard Pierre and Roger Sardinah.
After an entertaining performance by Angel Harps of a Clarence Morris arrangement of Nailah Blackman’s More Sokah, manager Clarry Benn was confident the 42-year old band did justice to the piece, which was played by four of the 17 large contenders.
Angel Harps amassed a total of 259 points, tying for 13th place with NGC La Brea Nightingales for one of the 14 places in the semis. Nightingales, the last of the big bands to be judged on Wednesday, played a Vanessa Headley arrangement of Swappi’s Feeling It.
Like many of the other bands, Angel Harps players were mainly youths, including some members of the junior band which placed eighth in the recent Junior Panorama competition.
From Enterprise, the next stop was at the Coffee Street, San Fernando, CAL Skiffle Pan Theatre. A section of Coffee Street, just before and after the panyard, was closed off to traffic to accommodate hundreds of supporters, including the Prime Minister and a contingent of Cabinet colleagues, as well as representatives from the San Fernando City Corporation.
Third place winners in the Junior Panorama competition, NAPS Combined Steel Orchestra, dubbed the “Junior Skiffle,” also came to support the senior band and some of their members, who are playing with Skiffle.
The 115-strong orchestra gave a commendable performance of Wrong Again by Skinny Banton, arranged by the “Three Amigos” – Marc Brooks, Odie Franklin and Kendall Williams – and earned a place in the finals. The band scored 263 points to take ninth place.
Director of Finance Carl Mc Lean recalled that Skiffle’s best performance to date was two years ago, when it placed second with Hello. He is hoping this year they can go one up to take that elusive position.
Part of Carib Street was also closed off as the Rowley contingent moved with the judges to Antillean All Stars and NLCB Fonclaire.
Fonclaire, which is under new management, led by Darren Sheppard, made Rowley an honorary member of the team by presenting him with a Forever Fonclaire T-Shirt, which he immediately put on.
Before its performance of the Kees and Voice song, Dear Promoter, Fonclaire’s PRO Wendell Laing spoke about the band’s 55-year journey and its desire to get back community support. Under the new management, the band has partnered with five primary schools – Anstey Memorial, San Fernando Boys' and Girls' RC, Mon Repos RC and St Gabriel’s RC – as well as Pleasantville Secondary to share the culture and keep the youths off the streets.
“We want to let people know what Fonclaire has been through and what we are embarking on so you can buy into this. We want the community to come back, to understand the dynamics of the area and what an integral part Fonrose and Claire Streets (from which the name was adapted) has been to this band.”
With 261 points, Fonclaire tied with Birdsong for 10th place.
On Sunday, 14 medium and 14 large conventional bands will square off for places in their respective finals at the Queen’s Park Savannah.