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World Steelband Festival 2000
PAN Is Beautiful IX

Trinidad Guardian ©
Saturday 5th September 1998
David Cuffy

[Presented without permission - permission being sought]

PAN Is Beautiful IX     Dates: Friday October 16th to Saturday November 7th, 1998
Venues: See Here
    See some

   New look for pan festival

   PAN Is Beautiful IX, this year's edition of the biennial Steelband Music Festival presented by Pan Trinbago, will take on a new look.

   At the official launch of the event at The Normandie [Hotel] in St Ann's yesterday, president of Pan Trinbago Patrick Arnold explained that due to waning public interest in the Festival, resulting from the abundance of classical music presented, an executive decision had been taken to adopt a new style this time around.

   The new format will see elimination of the traditional “test piece” and expansion of the event into six categories that include soloist, duet, quartet, ensemble, single pan band and orchestra.

   Participating bands will be required to perform two selections of choice. However, one must be a composition by a person of Caribbean origin. The other could be by a composer of any origin. One has to be of contrasting style or idiom of music from the other. In addition, the actual playing time of both selections shall not exceed 20 minutes.

   The Festival begins on Friday, October 16th and ends on Saturday, November 7th. The opening performance will take place at The Normandie and features appearances by soloists, duets, quartets and ensembles.

   Other venues to be used during the three-weeks of the Festival include Signal Hill Comprehensive School in Tobago, Naparima Bowl in San Fernando, the Centre of Excellence at Tunapuna, the Jean Pierre Complex in Woodbrook and the Queens Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.

   Finals for soloists, duets, quartets, ensembles and single pan bands will be held at the Savannah on Saturday, October 31st, while finals for orchestras takes place at the Jean Pierre Complex on Saturday, November 7th.

   So far, 26 conventional steel orchestras and 17 single pan bands (traditional orchestras) have registered to participate in the event. Among them are the reigning Panorama champions NuTones and Arima All Stars, respectively.

   Some of the other known bands include: Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars, Petrotrin Invaders, Courts Laventille Sound Specialists, Hydro-Agri Skiffle Bunch, Petrotrin Deltones, Fonclaire, Exodus, White Oak Harmonites, Our Boys, Cordettes, Trinidad Nostalgic, Pan Jammers, Pan On The Move, Spree Simon Harmonics, St James Tripolians, Jah Roots, Scrunters and Worldwide.

   Arnold said the top prize in the Festival will not be less than TT$50,000 - the sum received by the 1996 champion. The event is being staged on a budget of TT$750,000.

[ Note: Ballpark @ Sept 1998 - US$1.00 ~= TT$6.24 - Xenon Laboratories Incorporated ]

   Asked to name the sponsors of the Festival, Arnold replied that they would be made known “in due course”. However, the event's marketing manager - Junia Regrello - later explained that the sponsors planned to make a joint announcement of their intent at a later date, hence the reluctance on the part of Pan Trinbago to release the information.

World Steelband Festival 2000
PAN Is Beautiful IX

Tobago Org ©
Sunday 26th April 1998

Image: Untitled water-colour by painter Lima Cole.
By kind permission: Jerry Besson of Paria Publishing Co Ltd ©

World Steelband Music Festival 2000

   Trinidad and Tobago join the Millennium bandwagon with an announcement from the Prime Minister, Mr Basdeo Pandy, that T&T are to host a World Steelband Music Festival in the year 2000.

   Under the banner of the Millennium Mission Programme - that will be responsible for Art, Music and Cultural events - to celebrate the turn of an epoch, the PM enthusiastically declared that T&T were well placed to represent the Caribbean with such an event; considering the experience the Islands already have in presenting their yearly world renowned Carnival.

   The PM cited Pan Trinbago as one of the principal organisers of this event; whose brief will include Calypso, Soca and a World Steelband Music Festival as some of the facets that this organisation has the responsibility to arrange and promote.

   The first and only World Steelband Music Festival so far, was hosted in Trinidad in late October 1988, with the Royal Bank of T&T as a principal sponsor. Gideon Maximes notes remind us that the Guyana Defence Force Steelband, BIDCO Invaders - from Guyana; Ferminando de Venezuela - Venezuela; and ‘even [a band] as far as Sweden’ [was that anything to do with you Ulf?] were supposed to turn up. In the event, only BIDCO Invaders and Ferminando de Venezuela showed up to represent the rest of the ‘world’.

   Curiously [to me that is] the World Steelband Music Festival ‘morphed’ into a competition. With a grand trophy “Pan in Perpetuity”, designed and made by Alvado Lare, for the winners. Reading between the lines suggests that on the 5th November Desperadoes got the trophy for Best Test Piece. Other prize winners included Renegades for Best Tune of Choice and Phase II Pan Grove for Best Calypso tune rendition. A further note states that the then 17 year old Dexter Simon, of Manzanilla, became the youngest arranger at a Steelband Music Festival with his arrangements for Cordettes.

   Most curious of all, is that for the competitions, Ferminando de Venezuela do not show up in the lists as competitors. I can only presume that they ran out of ‘pop’ and went home after presenting themselves at some show; the lengthy competition proceedings over-stretching their commitment in time and other resources. Untitled by Lima Cole

   Where the Millennium Missions World Steelband Music Festival 2000 seems likely to be an event of outstanding musical showmanship and a special opportunity for many steelbands, it presents Pan Trinbago with an organisational responsibility an order of magnitude grater than anything they have probably ever faced before. This is a project of Olympian proportions if it is to be as successful as the PM’s enthusiasm warrants.

   Not only will Pan Trinbago have to solicit steelbands of stature from around the world, where Ulf’s Steelbands Page suggests that there are hundreds to choose from; but they will also need to arrange for their members to be housed for the duration of the festival. This is unlike a local event, where afterwards, the steelbands people just evaporate home. Also, the chosen bands will need to be both of a good standard and have dedicated members and as dedicated external sponsorship.

   The ‘standards’ criteria presents problems as there is no ‘world’ benchmark; but participants who elect to travel this far will probably be ‘showing their best face’ anyway, so this issue may not be significant. But where there are a significant number of bands to choose from; external competitions in their respective countries could perhaps be suggested where the winners (+2nd etc - what a nightmare! Dependant on the number of places available in T&T!) would be eligible to join the festival. Or do we just leave it as an open invitation; as we would welcome any band that wishes to travel this far.

   Dedicated members means players who unanimously, in support of their band, are willing and able to sideline their well paying[?] secure[?] jobs in a first word country to take a ‘holiday’ in T&T for the duration of the festival. Pan Trinbago needs to carefully consider and fix a suitable ‘duration’ for the festival, if a repeat of the Ferminando de Venezuela ‘no show’ is to be avoided.

   Sponsorship will however be paramount, and external sponsorship at that. Pan Trinbago faces severe problems funding its local steelbands as it is, and although I am sure some effort will be made for locally funding ‘some facets’ of this festival; external sponsorship will be needed to bring the bands and their instruments to T&T.

   There are many problems to be solved here, and only a ‘tip’ of the now infamous ‘iceberg’ has been addressed here. Are we now also opening a door of opportunity to the beginnings of a future ‘World Panorama’ event that, like the Olympics, could be held every 4 years, and like Wimbledon, held at the ‘Mecca for steelbands’, the Grand Stand, Queens Park Savannah, Port of Spain? But then, we would have to build a new Grand Stand! And so it goes on and on and on.

   The World Steelband Music Festival 2000 is going to be a very significant event for the future of Trinidad and Tobago and their association with world steelbands. Let us all, of ‘The Pan Fraternity’, think and plan carefully and pull together to make it all happen; with the dignity and celebrity the event deserves.

World Steelband Festival 2000
PAN Is Beautiful IX

© 1998: tobagojo@gmail.com - org19980427
19991205 - 1m20071228 - 2m20150929
Historic Update: 05 December 1999; Last Update: 29 September 2015 24:00:00 TT
Processed by: Jeremy G de Barry
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Compiled & Processed by Islands Research for:
The Steelbands (Pan) of Trinidad & Tobago

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