Chord Masters retain Panorama single-pan crown

Newtown Playboys is joined by Kernel Roberts, during their performance of Pan in A Minor in the 2024 National Panorama Single Pan finals, at the Queen's Park Savannah on Sunday. The band placed third. - Angelo Marcelle
Newtown Playboys is joined by Kernel Roberts, during their performance of Pan in A Minor in the 2024 National Panorama Single Pan finals, at the Queen's Park Savannah on Sunday. The band placed third. - Angelo Marcelle

A “chook” from Dr Cassandra was what it took for San Juan Chord Masters to gain the 2024 single-pan crown the second time around.

The band’s winning performance on Sunday at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, earned it 278 points.

San Juan East Side Symphony came second with its arrangement of Barbadian comedian Mac Fingall’s Big Belly Man and Newtown Playboyz’ arrangement of the late Kitchener’s Pan In A Minor earned it third place with 270 points.

These bands placed in the same order for the 2022/2023 Panorama single-pan finals.

For Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore, Sunday’s finals showcased the emerging skill of young arrangers. The winning band earned its first place with the help of returning arranger Andre White.

There were a number of familiar names such as Amrit Samaroo, Duvone Stewart and Keisha Codrington.

Ramsey-Moore felt pride at the performance of the single-pan bands this year.

“Knowing where we came from. When we celebrate the single-pans we go back to the beginning. The music is changing because we have a number of young arrangers coming out of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and finding a space in the single-pan category.

“That in itself is a significant accomplishment,” she said.

Ramsey-Moore described the finals as a movie, saying she hoped it would pique the interest of corporate TT.

“This final was a movie. I am so proud especially knowing that these bands are unsponsored, to come with players uniformed and well-dressed up, it was amazing.”

She said she expected corporate TT to support the traditional bands.

“Almost all of the large bands are sponsored but when you support the traditional steelbands, you support communities because we say pan is community soul.”

She emphasised the role pan played in youth development, as a large number of pannists in the single bands were youth.

Panorama started in November and kept many young players off the street from November into February; when Panorama was over, there were other competitions throughout the year to keep them engaged and this made an invaluable contribution to TT’s development, she said.

Although the stand was not completely filled for the event, it drew a small crowd. This was better than last year’s turnout, she said.

“It was a significant improvement over the year. It was amazing to see the turnout and I am sure the revenue will speak for itself.”

Ramsey-Moore said there was rejuvenation in spirit and rejuvenation in pan in TT.

“As president I am elated, I am proud of the work of the central executive and the regional executives. I am so proud of all of those volunteers who are giving their time and their talent to mould our young people using pan as the vehicle for their development.”

San Juan Chord Masters’s manger and leader Richard DeCoteau thanked all the past founders and leaders for the success it enjoys today.

He said the band put in the work to retain its crown and he hoped the band’s performance would prompt sponsorship from corporate TT.

While some bands received assistance – and they were grateful for it – DeCoteau could not say for certain if there was a single-pan band receiving full sponsorship.

Sunday’s finals showed that the bands were presenting themselves in a “more professional way” and that, he hoped, would encourage sponsors.

Like Ramsey-Moore, DeCoteau said the panyards kept youths positively engaged.

“One of the things we do during the year is formulate a stage side and do performances. We encourage the youths in and around the area to be a part of it, because we are plagued by this crime situation and all of these negative elements around us.

“We just try to incorporate the youths to gravitate toward the panyard to get into something positive and help them to develop and be off the streets, help them to find something to do with their time.”

DeCoteau also praised UTT’s work in developing young arrangers for the industry.

“It is exciting to see them coming out and showcasing their talent.

“They are in their early 20s and this is something for the future for steelband in TT, kudos to UTT for that. UWI also plays a part but the majority are coming out of the UTT programme,” he said.

DeCoteau also thanked Pamberi Steel Orchestra’s management for the use of its space and time and the community of Laventille Road, Febeau Village, San Juan, both of which contributed to its success, he said.

He said the secret to the band’s success was focus and discipline.


"Chord Masters retain Panorama single-pan crown"

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