Trinidad and Tobago

Terry's beach banner

Pan Fiesta Opens Tonight

By Terry Joseph
September 05, 2003

Steel orchestras in Pan Trinbago's South/Central region will this evening kick off the inaugural Republic Pan Fiesta, as they play their preliminary round on the move along Cipero Street in San Fernando from 7 p.m.

Region chairman Whitfield Weekes assures that all systems are in place for a smooth operation of the contest, which will see bands starting at the corner of Sutton and Cipero streets and parading westward to the judging point (opposite Neal & Massy) outside Skinner Park.

The Fiesta, another attempt by Pan Trinbago (in collaboration with the National Carnival Commission) to develop products for the post-Carnival season, features three nights of preliminaries, from which 12 single-pan bands and an equal number of conventional orchestras will playoff at the September 20 final at the Queen's Park Savannah.

Some $1,285,000 in prizes is at stake for the regional and national championships. Apart from tonight's south/central joust, similar events will take place tomorrow in the eastern and Tobago regions and on Sunday in Port of Spain. From each region, 12 prizes will be awarded in single-pan and conventional categories.

The winner of each regional playoff will automatically qualify for the final round, plus eight other bands in each category. Tomorrow's eastern preliminaries will take place along O'Meara Road, Arima and the Tobago elimination parades along Milford Road in Scarborough; both beginning at 7 p.m.

The northern region does its preliminary round on Ariapita Avenue outside Pan Trinbago's headquarters, an event scheduled to run from 4 p.m. to midnight.

All preliminary playoffs are free to the public.

Single pan bands are allowed 35 players, ten less than those performing in conventional orchestras, with players limited to working with no more than one band in each category.

Bands must play for six minutes (or less) a selection composed by a recognised Panorama arranger but not one it rendered in such a competition.

They will be judged on musical arrangement (40 points), general performance (40 points), with tone and rhythm each earning a maximum of ten points. The winner in each region will receive $10,000, while victory for the conventional orchestra will bring that band $25,000. For the final, winning bands will receive $15,000 and $50,000 respectively.

Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold yesterday described the event as a pioneering move, designed to maintain national interest in pan music and bring at least the early rounds to the public in the various communities.

"This is all in keeping with our aim to promote, encourage support from, and develop, already existing audiences for the preservation, enjoyment and appreciation of after-Carnival performances by steelband musicians and to bring some returns to the pannists themselves," Arnold said.

The majority of participating bands (27 of 62) have opted for works composed by the prolific Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, including "Fire Down Below", "This Feeling Nice", "Woman is Boss", "Cool Breeze", "Mind Yuh Business", "Freedom", "I Music", "Pan Rising", "Rags to Riches", "Sweet and Sexy" and "Birthday Party".

Other popular choices for the contest salute Ray Holman (whose songs are being performed by 12 bands), Ken "Professor" Philmore (8), Robert Greenidge (7), Clive Bradley (3), Winsford "Joker" Devine, Pelham Goddard and Earl Rodney (2) and single entries from Maestro, Brian "Bean" Griffith, Godwin Bowen, Dennis Smith, Lincoln "Fats" Waldron and Selwyn "Parry" Paul.

Interestingly, the BWIA Invaders are going with Holman's "Pan on the Run", a song they helped inspire, after the band routed the neighbouring Starlift Steel Orchestra who was that year playing another Holman composition, "Pan on the Move".

Not allowed to play any of his Panorama tunes at the Republic Pan Fiesta, Sharpe's Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove will enter with the song "Party", composed by arch-rival Clive Bradley.

Pan Fiesta Schedule

Terry's Homepage