The Trinidad Panorama is the largest steelpan competition in world. This annual steelband competition takes place in Trinidad every year during the Carnival, culminating the Saturday before Carnival. The championship band is chosen from the 60 to 80 bands who enter the preliminaries. Each band consists of 75 to 200 musicians. The competition brings out the best steel pan players (known as pannists) in the world and lasts for several weeks. The finals take place on the Queen’s Park Savanah, which is also known as the Big Yard.
Preparation for Panorama
Each steel-band is given a calypso piece to perform using very strict rules. The competition is fierce and the steelbands are judged on the quality of their arrangement, their overall performance, and the tone and rythm of their interpretation. At the beginning of the competition, the judges go to the various panyards to judge and qualify the steel-bands that will face each other during the semi-finals and finals that are held in Port of Spain on the Savanah. During this time, dozens of trucks from all over the country cause massive traffic as they bring the various instruments to the grand stadium where the competition is held.
The Panorama Competition
The Panorama competition brings together participants from all around the world to compete against each other for the title of Champions. The competing orchestras play a highly arranged calypso piece. Each piece lasts for approximately 8 to 10 minutes. The supporters of each band help to push the mobile stands that house the pans and players. Each band has a dancer with a flag doing an elaborate flag dance, which is also judged. Steel bands are like football teams with fiercely loyal fans and supporters.
There is also a Junior Panorama for school-age children and it is just as competitive as the senior competition. It is seen as an important training ground for the adult Panorama competition and for the steel band movement on a whole.
Panorama around the World
Panorama type competitions are now held all over the English speaking Caribbean, the USA, and in some European and Asian countries. They are planned by local steelband organizations and the structure and adjudication is usually based on that of the Trinidadian Panorama. Various cities and countries have their own version of Panorama, but the Trinidadian Panorama competition remains the pre-eminent steelband competition in the world.