NGC Couva Joylanders played its way into the history books on Sunday night, winning their first National Panorama title in the medium conventional band category. The central Trinidad outfit, led by Richard Gill, gave an electrifying performance to De Fosto's (Winston Scarborough's) 1993 selection, It's My Turn, before a lively crowd at the Dwight Yorke Stadium parade grounds, Bacolet, Tobago. The band scored 285 points and received a tidy sum of $600,000.Last year's winner, Pan Elders, did not make it the finals of the competition. Barataria band Potential Symphony Steel Orchestra, which scored 283 points, placed second with the Mighty Sparrow's (Slinger Francisco) All Dem Tobago Gyal while former champions and hometown favourite Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra, with 282 points, came in third with Merchant's (Dennis Williams) Caribbean Connection.
They received $550,000 and $500,000, respectively.Sforzata and Curepe Scherzando tied for fourth place with 281 points. There was also a tie for sixth place between Pamberi and Siparia Deltones. Tobago bands Carib Dixieland and NGC Steel Xplosion claimed eight and ninth spots, respectively, much to the disappointment of the audience. Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille came in tenth. The bands were judged on general performance, tone and arrangement. For Joylanders' players, several of whom cried openly, the victory was the culmination of a dream they harboured for many years."It's been something we have been working at for a very long time," a visibly elated Gill told reporters, adding the band's arranger Stefon West played an immense role in their success."We have worked hard and we have been knocking on the doors for a really long time. So, it is really our turn now."
Ace arranger Duvone Stewart, who is seeking his third consecutive win with BP Renegades Steel Orchestra in Saturday's National Large Conventional Band final at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, also was impressed with Joylanders' performance. Shortly after the results were announced, Stewart joined the band's jubilant supporters and players in their celebration."What have I said to you?" he asked Gill. "Invest in the youths. Invest in Stefon West. Enjoy it."
West, who has been based in Israel for the past nine months, is part of the US embassy-funded Peace Drums programme, for Arabs and Israelites to come together, using the steelpan.
Gill, who dedicated the win to the band's elders, mentors and Couva community, said he had no difficulties managing his young players."It is quite simple, quite workable, once they understand what they have to do. We are a team, one family. We work together for one mission, one goal."Saying the band intends to build on its success, Gill added Joylanders is also planning to move from a medium to a large band in the not-too-distant future. He said NGC has also renewed its contract with the band for another three years. This year, the National Panorama Medium Conventional Band final, titled Celebrate The Pan, was held for the first time in Tobago and President Paula Mae Weeks was on hand to witness the performances. Culture Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston "Gypsy" Peters also attended.
Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore, in her address at the start of the show, said the steelpan must be celebrated year-round."As president of Pan Trinbago, I must tell you that I am extremely pleased and proud about my executive and the member bands that took the decision to open up pan for all season. There is no season for pan in Trinidad and Tobago. And when we say pan, we say Trinidad and Tobago," she told the audience."Pan unifies. Pan connects. Pan is happy music. Pan is therapeutic music."Ramsey-Moore thanked Peters and the NCC board, the Tobago House of Assembly and the Tobago Festivals Commission for their contribution to the show's success and expressed hope it will be a fixture on the annual Carnival calendar."It is the first time and it will not be the last time."
Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said Tobago broke new ground in hosting the competition in Tobago."How does it feel to be a part of history in the making, a part of an experience that will be etched into the history books of Trinidad and Tobago forever? Indeed, we are quite delighted to have you here for this – the very first-ever national Panorama finals to be held in Tobago."Charles said Panorama, one of the oldest Carnival traditions, has consolidated itself as a highly-anticipated staple of Trinidad and Tobago."It is the fusion of our creative juices, the merging of pan and calypso. But there is also a reverence that accompanies it as our annual prayer ode to the steelpan."Panorama is an offering of percussive thunder, a glorious opportunity to listen to steel talk and to hear steel sing. It is the mecca of it all, the crème de la crème."He urged the audience to continue to support the steelpan."This evening, let us all aspire to a deeper sense of duty towards the continued elevation of one of the greatest stages and spotlights of pan music. You see, pan is more than just an instrument, more than the distinctive sound, which has provided the soundtrack for this nation and the wider region. Pan is the rhythm that beats in our hearts, the rhapsody that pulsates through our souls and a global face of Trinidad and Tobago." Reminding the audience that pan was once regarded with scorn and disdain, Charles said the instrument is now "a proud symbol of our country's finest hour."
He said the steelpan is a constant reminder of the unbridled ingenuity, brilliance and industry the country possesses."The story of the steelpan serves as an enduring but eloquent testament to these qualities. But above all else, the pan is a circle of unity, a powerful force which continues to unite our communities and mend the gaps between our generations."-(with reporting by Joan Rampersad)
FINAL RESULTS IN MEDIUM BAND CATEGORY1) NGC Couva Joylanders - 285 points 2) Potential Symphony - 283 points 3) Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra - 282 points4) Sforzata - 281 points4) Curepe Scherzando - 281 points 6) Siparia Deltones - 280 points6) Pamberi - 280 points8) Carib Dixieland - 274 points9) NGC Steel Xplosion - 272 points10) Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille - 270 points