Steelpan lovers, music enthusiasts, or even the most casual listeners will get the chance to watch some of the best steelpan players from the Caribbean put their craft on display come May 7 when PanoGrama, dubbed the World Cup of Steelpan, is slated to kick off. The online steelpan competition is getting ready for its second staging after a successful maiden year in 2020, and Nevin Roach, the founder of PanoGrama Entertainment says he has seen a marked improvement in the competition which has stepped up immensely from last year’s staging.

Roach explained that PanoGrama was birthed due to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the steelpan community. He says it was due to seeing online music performances, he had the idea of creating a competition for pannists.

Nevin Roach, Founder of Panograma

“During the heights of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions in 2020, live entertainment on Instagram sparked an idea to do something for pan. We were all stuck at home craving entertainment and I thought I could provide just that. I wanted to bring the entertaining vibe of Panorama to Instagram and as a result, PanoGrama was born,” says Roach. “PanoGrama made history as the first-ever online steelpan competition in 2020 and has now been dubbed the World Cup of Steelpan. It is an international steelpan competition, endorsed by Pan Trinbago (the world governing body for steelpan), that showcases talented up-and-coming musicians, to provide wholesome and family-oriented world-class entertainment, while also simultaneously contributing to the holistic personal, musical and professional development of these musicians.”

And the name of the competition reflects its roots. Born from a period of restrictions, the PanoGrama competition is aimed at not only offer a platform for the pannists to perform and put their talents on display but also helping those that have been hit financially by the pandemic.

“Panorama + Instagram = PanoGrama. Quick maths! However, that was only part of the rationale. I also wanted to use the platform to help pannists who faced financial challenges, considering that going out to play gigs was no more. The goal of assisting was achieved through the offer of cash prizes, especially appearance fees sponsored by Pan Trinbago. Also, upon completion of the competition, a sizeable donation was made to the Social Prosperity Fund of Pan Trinbago, to aid those facing financial hardships within the steelpan community.”

The event will see some of the best steelpan players in the Caribbean come together for a chance to make it to the finals and a chance to call themselves the winner of the Steel Pan World Cup. The format of the competition will feature 29 pannists who have been selected from auditions alongside the defending champion from last year. These pannists will go through a preliminary round where the number of musicians will be cut to 20 to advance to the semifinals. From there, the number will again be cut to 10 pannists that will compete in the PanoGrama finals.

“They would be judged based on very high standards. Detailed criteria would guide judges, which includes improvised or pre-composed variations, execution, and performance. Adjudicators include the Paganini of steelpan Liam Teague, virtuoso Victor Provost, Andy Chichester, David ZigE Walcott, and Ojay Richards,” Roach said.

Roach said that this year has seen a marked increase in the number of auditions, and the competition has improved in strides.

“The reception has been amazing this year. There were 20 participants across 8 countries last year, including Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Maarten, USA, Puerto Rico, and Guyana. This year, a total of 45 pannists auditioned for the competition, with new countries such as France, England, St. Kitts & Nevis, Canada, and the US Virgin islands coming on board, in addition to the countries that were represented last year. PanoGrama has also been getting a lot of coverage in the media and the competition hasn’t started as yet,” he said.

Persons interested can follow the competition on the various social media platforms like on YouTube at the channel PanoGrama, on Facebook at pano.grama1, and on Instagram at pano.grama.

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