Pan month is celebrated each August. During that time, Pan Trinbago honours the instrument, its players and achievements.
Over the last two years, covid19 restrictions drove the celebrations online but, with their removal, physical events have returned.
The month usually has a specific theme. This year each week has its own theme and those are reintroduction, reflection, rejuvenation, reharmonisation and rebranding.
The month began with Panternational, a virtual event which showcases regional and international bands, ensembles and soloists.
The US’s Northern Illinois University (NIU) was featured on August 1. From August 2-5, St Lucia, Belize, Grenada, Japan, and the International Panorama will be featured.
The month-long events will also include a church service, the return of Pan and Powder from City Hall to the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. and World Steelpan Day on August 11.
For Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore there is a sense of excitement as physical events return.
One aspect of the celebrations is usually honouring pan’s leaders and achievers. This year the body will honour some of its leaders and youth and especially bands that have functioned continuously for 60 years or more.
“This year the focus is definitely on our leaders and their contribution to the development of their communities through pan,” she said.
This will be done through a pan leadership recognition function.
Ramsey-Moore said, “Youth is future and so we are going to be honouring them at a youth gala and awards function.
“In terms of playing the instrument, it is the young people. When you look at even the young arrangers, tuners and panmakers that are coming up now, we are extremely proud of their contribution and we want to motivate and encourage them to continue.”
There is also an important point that she wants to highlight during the month. Ramsey-Moore wants to make the declaration of pan as the national instrument official.
In 1992, prime minister Patrick Manning declared pan the national instrument in an Independence Day speech. But that was not recorded in Hansard. Hansard is the official transcripts of Parliament.
Ramsey-Moore said the body wanted Parliament to pass a law saying pan is the national instrument. She added Manning only declared it so in his speech.
Discussions were held with Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell about having this done.
“We are hoping that for 2023, as we look forward to the mother of all Carnivals, there can definitely be parliamentary proclamation. That would make those pioneers and the older folks involved in the movement proud.
"Therefore, all of Parliament saying, ‘Yes, it is indeed the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.’”
The call was not coming from Pan Trinbago but from the pioneers, she said.
Pan Month also comes on the heels of the pan being celebrated through a Google Doodle. The doodle usually celebrates special events, holidays and/or historical events and happenings and was the main image on July 26.
When one clicked on the doodle, it took them to an animated YouTube video. The video shows pan moving from the oil drums and images of panyards, doubles and snow cone vendors.
TT illustrator and graphic designer Nicholas Huggins illustrated the video, 3D artist and motion designer Mick Seegobin did motion design. Jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles, Phase II Pan Groove's Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Josanne Francis, Jonathan Castro and Luke Walker also contributed.
Ramsey-Moore said she was elated at the doodle.
“I must tell you that was an important and significant day for TT. Being president at this time, I can tell you it was one of the things I craved for, that worldwide recognition of pan.
“Not only was it recognition of pan but of TT being the pioneers."
Ramsey-Moore said she was extremely grateful and hopes it would bring more awareness to what the organisation does. She added that she looked forward to more people calling on Pan Trinbago for the music, but also for panmaking.
As pan moves forward into a changing world, Ramsey-Moore wants to create more partnerships to ensure greater documentation of pan’s history.
“We have had a lot of piecemeal approaches to the history and documenting the history. I think that is something we must look into so we can definitely have all things pan recorded.”