Global - “We go be dangerous, when we come back” – and the band was indeed the ‘comeback kid’ of the 2012 season. Like the lyrics of their Panorama song, When We Come Back, Grenada’s New Dimension Steel Orchestra triumphed and did just that, turning out to be the band to beat for this year’s Panorama. ‘In Pursuit Of Excellence’ is their motto and excel New Dimension did, ahead of seven other orchestras in their country’s 2012 National Panorama.
Arranger David “Peck” Edwards explained his band’s journey back to winner’s circle. “This performance tonight started from August last year – was from Panorama last year; we placed fifth. We licked our wounds…We were a bit complacent, and we said that we would not let this happen to us again. So that’s why we decide on the song When We Come Back.”
New Dimension, on their way to winning Grenada Panorama 2012
Taking nothing for granted, the band was on the ‘road to Panorama’ earlier this time around, with preparations beginning at the end of April, in contrast to the end of May timetable the orchestra worked with in 2011. They also put in longer hours in daily rehearsals.
“Peck” also spoke glowingly of the world-renowned tuner of his orchestra’s instruments, Bertram “Birch” Kelman. The twosome had been discussing the previous year’s showing, and were strategizing. Kelman told him “Peck, don’t worry; this year I’m going to make sure that New Dimension…has that kind of big, rich sound.” “And he has delivered!” exclaimed the arranger.
With a revamped attitude and chomping at the musical bit to get back on top, the band had their turn in the spotlight on the Panorama stage at 9:49 p.m. on Carnival Saturday. Playing at position three out of a field of eight competitors, a determined New Dimension sporting sixty-three steelpan musicians put on what was ultimately the best performance in the ears (and eyes) of the adjudication panel, amassing 267 points. This is the ninth Panorama championship for the steel orchestra which won its first title back in 1988.
The defending champs, 2011 winners Angel Harps Steel Orchestra would be awarded the number two spot with 252 points. Pan Ossia who were second last year had to be content with third place this time around, having garnered a total of 241. The group is the youngest on the Grenadian steelband Panorama scene, having been formed a mere two years ago. The founders originally played with Florida All Stars, which remains a functioning steel orchestra in its own right.
The points system used for the Panorama’s adjudication process was structured as follows: arrangement (with four sub-categories of introduction, re-harmonization, melodic development and motivic development) - 40 points; general performance (with sub-categories of interpretation, dynamics, creativity and balance) - 40 points; tone (quality and blending of steel pan instruments) - 10 points; rhythm (consistency and application of the rhythm section) – 10 points.
Conception Dance Theatre opened the Grenada 2012 Panorama at the National Stadium in the country’s capital of St. George’s, around 8:40 p.m. It was to be a “Pantastic Saturday,” billed also as a night of ‘Pan and Soca.’ First band out of the line-up of eight for the 2012 competition, dressed in light green tops and white bottoms, was 70-player strong Pan Lovers who sounded their ‘count’ at 8:55 p.m. They went with an Ignatius Bayne-arrangement of Black Wizard’s Come Back. Their delivery would eventually put them in position six at the end of competition.
Grand Roy Pan Angels
Next, fielding the smallest contingent in the 2012 competition, and taking the stage without the traditional canopies covering the players and pans, was the first of three bands out of St. John’s - Grand Roy Pan Angels. Throwing their hat into the ring, the band’s efforts secured them fourth place out of the eight participants. They made their musical statement with tune of choice Pan Vibes as arranged by Denver Mendes.
Rainbow City All Stars
New Dimension and Rainbow City All Stars competed in positions three and four, respectively. The latter—impressively arrayed in colors of choice white, red and black—has a music program within the secondary school system in St. Andrews, from which several of the band’s players emanate. This worked well all around, especially taking into account their popular panorama selection, Flying Cloud’s Sweet Sweet Sweet. Rainbow City arranger Othniel St. Clair explained. “People [attending the Panorama show] claim that the songs the bands play is [sic] not songs that they used to; they don’t know the songs….” With that in mind, Rainbow City decided to take the plunge to make a difference, and bring back ‘sweet music’ to Panorama, opting for a song that was on the lips of everyone. When they wrapped up their presentation around 10:30 p.m., half of the competing steel orchestras had gotten the chance to wow both the crowd and judges with their musical mettle for Panorama 2012.
Angel Harps Steel Orchestra
Fifth on stage for the evening were defending champions Angel Harps bringing one of the biggest music complements, seventy-two musicians who came determined to set the National Stadium ablaze with their performance of Carenage on Fire, in the quest to retain their title. The song was written by the orchestra’s veteran arranger James Clarkson in celebration of the happening or ‘hot’ cultural and musical nature for which The Carenage is known. Captained by Leroy “Malu” Stephen and dressed in an almost-fluorescent green and black, band members laid down a scorching session in contention once more for the championship.
Commancheros Steel Orchestra
And then it was the turn of Commancheros Steel Orchestra which last tasted Panorama success in 2007. They were hungry for a win and threw down their musical gauntlet on steelpan instruments tuned by Lloyd Gay and playing Ajamu’s A Prayer to the Nation as arranged by Andre Greenidge. The performance included a daring ‘stop’ in the arrangement for twelve beats, before the band came back in on cue, with a spiritual fervor. Dressed in silver and white topped off with glittering hats, Commancheros’ outlay was a bit reminiscent of Silver Stars from Trinidad, including the translucent canopies that topped the pans.
Like Rainbow City’s team before him, Commancheros’ arranger Andre Greenidge is also in support of performing Panorama music that everyone knows, especially the crowd in attendance. “…I can guarantee that as long as I am arranging, we’re going to use a song that everybody in the stadium can sing. It must be about entertainment. There’re only five judges down here. And if we have two, three, four, five thousand patrons, we can’t play for five persons and leave out the five thousand…We have to play for the people that paid…to come in here, and get entertainment - so we have to entertain them. From my perspective, and from me arranging for Commancheros, we’ve got to be an entertaining band…..Panorama has to be entertaining…we have to connect with the crowd….we have to draw people to Panorama. We can’t expect a man to just sit down there and have no idea what’s going on musically….I’m not saying discount the quality of the music….” declared Greenidge after the band’s performance.
Pan Ossia Steel Orchestra
Competing in position seven and showcasing what appeared to be the largest band—75 players—for the night, Pan Ossia got going at 12:02 a.m. Just as Grenada bet on world-class champion runner Kirani James to bring home Olympic gold, the first-ever for the Caribbean nation (which he eventually did), Pan Ossia pinned their hopes for their first Panorama championship on their execution of the song 400 Metres written in honor of Kirani and arranged by co-founder Robert Cadet, Sr. The band was strikingly attired in the colors of the national flag, their base uniform green and accented by red and yellow caps. It was the opinion of the judges that their performance merited third place. The band was established in 2010, after the leadership took the better part of a year to purchase instruments out of their own pockets; 2011 was their first Panorama outing.
Florida All Stars
In the steelband culture bands sometimes split, giving rise to new orchestras time and again as in the case of Pan Ossia, an off-shoot of the final band in the competition, Florida All Stars. The latter closed off the steel band segment of ‘Pan and Soca,’ playing eighth on the performance card. The group was the third band coming from St. John’s (Pan Ossia was the second), and ended the night of sweet steel pan music with their rendition of an Allan Gaskin-arrangement of Black Wizard’s Soca Instructions. The band is determined to remain part of the steelband “conversation” having been dormant for a ten-year period (1996–2006) after being established back in 1963.
The numbers in the crowd grew progressively throughout the evening, noticeably so while the second half of the Panorama was underway. By the time the competition results were announced (full details below), the grounds and stands were filled with music lovers, who by now had also descended upon the National Stadium in anticipation of the additional upcoming soca artistes on this night dubbed one of ‘Pan and Soca.’ Top draw performers from Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago—the likes of Talpree, Bunji Garlin, Shadow, Lavaman, Kerwin Dubois and more—were all there to slake the soca thirst, with several of the Grenadian contingent performing after the appearance of the final band in the Panorama. They were to keep the music fires burning through the hours following in what was officially then, the morning of Carnival Sunday in Grenada.
2012 Grenada National Panorama Results
|Placing & Points||
|New Dimension||When We Come Back||Ricardo “Africa” Ashton|
|Angel Harps||Carenage On Fire||Leroy “Malu” Stephen|
|Pan Ossia||400 Meters||Vaughn Walker|
|Grand Roy Pan Angels||Pan Vibes||Denver Mendes||Dejon Phillip|
|Commancheros||A Prayer to the Nation||Andre Greenidge||Lloyd Gay||Stephen Greenidge|
|Pan Lovers||Come Back||Ignatius Bayne||Wilfred Harris||Raymond Thomas
|Rainbow City All Stars||Sweet Sweet Sweet||Othniel St. Clair||Patrick Worrell||Richard Collier|
|Florida All Stars||Soca Instructions||Allan Gaskin||Michael Alexis||Martin Simpson
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