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UWI Panoridim orchestra ready to move forward

Published:Thursday | September 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
UWI Panoridim alongside Machel Montano.
A section of the UWI Panoridim Steel Orchestra in action.

In July when The Gleaner spoke to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Panoridim Steel Orchestra, they were in good spirits, preparing for the inaugural staging of the International Panorama Competition to be held in Trinidad in August. Fast-forward a month, the competition is over and the band, having got over the initial feeling of disappointment, is ready to take on the task again next year.

Valentino Walker, the band's public relations officer, said the competition was a great experience and they are looking forward to growing stronger as a unit following the competition. "We were a bit disappointed with the results at first, but after we realised what we had accomplished, we were pleased and decided to take it all as a learning experience and a stepping stone for the future."

Steel bands from all over the world converged in Trinidad hoping to walk away with the top prize. When the curtain came down on a spectacular display of music, Trinidad came out on top. The country copped the first three places in the competition, with the Massy Trinidad All Stars emerging as winners. Walker said he was not surprised at the results as he knew the Trinidad bands would be hard to beat, but he expected his team to finish higher in the final placing.

The UWI Panoridim was placed 21 out of 24 bands with a total of 417 points behind the winners who accumulated 476 points. "We were expecting to finish higher but we're okay with the decision," he said. "We learnt a lot, and having gone through it now, we know just what to do in future competitions. We went there as novices and we have come back with a wealth of experience."




Walker went on to say that the overall experience was not without its hiccups, but he was satisfied with the band's performance. He also said the crowd at the competition showed them support, many of them expressing that they were impressed with the Jamaicans' showing. "We put in a lot of work. There were numerous hours of training and rehearsals for the final show. The moment was scary for a lot of us, but we were happy to know that the people were impressed by our performance and that they enjoyed it."

After their showing in the competition, the band is hoping that they can get more Jamaicans to join the steelpan movement. The band, although having to deal with sponsorship issues prior to the competition, is expecting things to get better as time passes. "We have been getting a lot of local support since we've come back, and although we do not have any immediate needs for sponsorship based on the amount of congratulatory messages we've received, we anticipate that we will have less sponsorship issues in the future," said Walker.

Jamaica's UWI Panoridim Steel Orchestra is the longest-running and largest steel band in Jamaica, and is the only band most similar in size, style and function to the medium bands in Trinidad and Tobago. The 45-player Panoridim band is led by Angela Gay Magnus and was the only band from Jamaica to enter the first staging of the International Panorama Competition. UWI Panoridim is a 26-piece steel orchestra that aims to widen the appreciation and scope of steel pan music in Jamaica.