Trinidad: Panorama Competition
15 February 2004
For 6 weeks I have been doing nothing but practicing with the two pan bands that I am playing Panorama with. SilverStars came in 5th out of 55 bands in the Medium Conventional Band category (Medium bands must have 55 to 95 players and an 8 minute tune) in the Preliminaries, with 259 points, the winner had 263 points! Fifth is pretty good, but we were aiming for 1st of course, so we have been practicing hard to perfect the tune. The night of the preliminaries, our large pan yard was packed with about 500 people, neighbors, fans, other panists. The energy of the crowd was incredible, as they danced and whooped while we practiced before the judges arrived.
SilverStars will compete in the semifinals tomorrow, in front of a crowd of thousands at the Queen's Park Savanna in downtown Port of Spain. Panorama is THE pan competition of the year, the Olympics of pan, and panists and musicians travel to Trinidad from all over the world to watch it. SilverStars has a legitimate chance to win 1st. We've been working hard, oh, but what fun! I am doing great, to the surprise of all, and am enjoying it immensely.
Last night Scorpions played for the Small Traditional Band Preliminaries (Small Band category is 35 to 55 players and a 6 minute tune). Our small pan yard was packed with enthusiastic fans from the village of Carenage. Sapo made "buss up", a local dish, and everyone ate and drank and enjoyed our music. I think we sounded great! We'll get the results on Monday. Rick got some fantastic video. I am playing tenor with Scorpions, and mastering this tune has been an incredible challenge. The tune is very complex and sophisticated, with fast runs of notes, and nothing is repeated, so it's 6 minutes of unique stuff, very fast, very complex. As fun as this has been, I'm so relieved that the Preliminaries are over for both bands. Now we just have to fine tune and practice more, but at least we're not learning new stuff.
I've improved so much in every way, but it's been a lot of pressure, everyone kinda gets stressed out. Funny, the West Indians are a very laid back, "No Problem" kind of people, till it comes to Panorama, and then they are fiercely competitive and the tension level was very high leading up to the Preliminaries. I got sick, as many others did, and lost my voice entirely, so that's been a bummer. I'll rest up after the Semifinals on Sunday. Then we'll have two more weeks till the Finals, Saturday the 21st, the night before Carnival. Assuming we qualify in the Semi-finals, of course.
Rick has been enjoying the pre-Carnival events with some of our cruiser friends, busy almost nightly going to the Calypso Tents, visiting the various pan yards to watch them practice, etc. We have made friends with a wonderful cruising couple from Austin who has done Carnival in Trinidad for 8 years, and finally bought a boat so that they could live on it and do Carnival. Like us, they love pan. Rick has been mostly liming with them, and the 3 of them have come to many of my bands' practices and all of the performances.
Don't worry if you don't hear from me till after Carnival....beginning of March. Love you all lots....Ami
P. S. It's Monday, yesterday I played in the Panorama Semifinals with Silver Stars Steel Orchestra. We had 80 players, over 150 drums. We competed against the other 14 bands that also made the Preliminaries in the Medium Conventional Band category. We played in front of about 20,000 people in the Savana. By the time the Large Conventional Bands played in the evening (bands with 95 - 120 players), the crowd had swelled to over 40,000. The competition started around 11:30, and we played around 2 in the afternoon, then watched the other bands play until about 10:30 pm. Then, around 11pm, they started announcing the results. The tension was high as the loudspeaker broadcast the 15th band first, and slowly worked up to 6th, 5th, 4th, and as Silver Stars continued to be un-named, the tension grew even worse. When the 2nd place winner was announced, leaving only Silver Stars un-named, we whooped in joy, and ran to a group victory hug!
Silver Stars has never enjoyed better than 4th place in any level of Panorama competition, and so this was a sweet victory indeed! The reward for 6 weeks of very hard work and long nights of practice! But the 2nd place band came in with only 3 points less than us, and so we need to really fine tune our piece, and practice hard, and there's no telling where we'll end up in the Finals on the 21st. But I am totally on cloud nine. Just playing with a band like Silver Stars is enough. Just playing Panorama is enough. But to play and win the Semifinals is sweet indeed!
The Panorama Finals will be broadcast worldwide on Saturday, February 21st, starting at 7pm or so Atlantic time, from T&T Television, Trinidad and Tobago Television, via satellite. Friends here will video tape the TV broadcast for us, and we'll show it next summer. If you know someone with satalite TV who subscribes to worldwide networks, you can watch it live.
Just found out that Scorpions came in 15th out of 46 bands in the Small Traditional Band category Preliminaries, and unfortunately, only the top 14 go on to the Semifinals. Not a bad rating, tho, as the competition from the 46 bands was stiff. I thought that we played really well, guess just not well enough. In a way it's better for me, tho, as now I will practice only with Silver Stars, which is very important.