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About Panorama - The Steel Band Competition

Following the impact of TASPO - Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra's performance at the Festival of Britain in 1951 the steel pan has become an important and respected element of British music culture.

Panorama is a national steel band championship originating in Trinidad. The UK event takes place as part of Notting Hill Carnival.

Watch the Carnival Village 2014 documentary about UK Panorama steel orchestras who compete for the title of Champions of Steel at the annual W London event.

In 1963, the government of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) in partnership with the National Association of Trinidad and Tobago Steelbandsmen set up a new steelband competition called Panorama. With the championship title at stake the event demanded a more complex approach to arranging calypsos for the large bands of up to one hundred players who are judged on detailed elements of the arrangement, musical ability and performance.

T&T Steelband Panorama 2010 winners Silver Stars play Battle Zone

Trinidad also holds 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 steel band competitions are now held all over the English speaking Caribbean, including Brooklyn's Panorama the New York, USA, and in some European and Asian countries. They are planned by local steel band organisations and the structure and adjudication is usually based on that of the Trinidadian Panorama.

ADLIB are the 2011 champions of Brooklyn's Steelband Panorama. 21-year-old Andre White talks about his musical influences and his plans for steelpan.

In the UK the first Panorama took place in 1978 as a pre-curser to Notting Hill Carnival. Up to twelve steel bands from towns and cities across the UK rehearse daily for many weeks to learn a performance piece.

For many years the event took place at Emslie Horniman's Pleasance Park in West London's Kensal Road. In 2007 the competition moved to Hyde Park for three years before returning to Kensal Road.

A close look at Mangrove's expert musicians playing Andre White's arrangement of 'Thunder Coming' in All Saints Road for UK Panorama 2008.

Thirty to seventy-five players work with the best steel pan arrangers to interpret a ten minute version of a popular calypso. The bands are judged on harmonisation, melodic development, interpretation, dynamics and effective use of the rhythm section - the drums and percussion known as the Engine Room.

Watch RASPO's first performance of Bubbles' arrangement of 'Pan on Fire' at the 32nd UK Panorama Steelband Championship 2010.

The steel band performance with quality harmonic embellishments, balance, tone and the finest rhythmic variations of the melody has the best chance of becoming the National Champions of Steel.

2014 UK National Panorama Championship flyer

2014 UK National Panorama Championship flyer

UK Panorama Winners 2011 - Mangrove

UK Panorama Winners

See the list of winning steel percussion orchestras since the UK Panorama Steelband Championships started in 1978. More...

Trinidad Panorama

Trinidad Panorama flyer 2012

In 1963 the Trinidad Carnival Development Committee started the Panorama Competition with each band vying for recognition as the superior band in the land.
For the competition every band is required to play a ten minute rendition of a calypso of choice.

The winners and other participants are rewarded financially and there are other perks, such as trips overseas and engagements at home.

RASPO at Panorama

RASPO at Panorama 2011

In 2007 eight members of RASPO joined Mangrove Steel Band and arranger Len 'Boogsie' Sharpe to play an arrangement of his own composition 'Sharin Licks' at Panorama's first showing in London's Hyde Park. More...

In 2009 RASPO's director joined Mangrove who worked with arranger Andre White to perform his ten minute arrangement of Magic Drum for the 2009 Panorama Championship in Hyde Park. More...

In 2010 RASPO achieved it's ambition to enter the 32nd Panorama Championships at it's original home in Kensal Road. Despite coming seventh RASPO's thirty-five musicians enthusiastically performed Bubbles' arrangement of 'Pan on Fire' and made a good impression as the new band on the block. More...

In 2011 RASPO worked with New York arranger Iman Pascall and Aberdeen based Pandemic Steel Band to take a forty-seven piece orchestra for their second Panorama in Kensal Road. RASPO gained a higher score taking sixth place playing 'Calling Meh'. More...

In 2012 London hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games providing opportunities for RASPO to perform for the London 2012 Festival during the Games. More....
The orchestra missed Panorama for a BBC 3 live performance with the BBC Proms Family Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. More...

In 2013 RASPO joined the London Notting Hill Carnival parade for a day of music and dancing providing entertainment for the millions of carnival revellers on Carnival Monday. More...

In 2014 RASPO launched the Summer Steel Band project for newcomers to learn steel pan music and join the steel band for busking tours and performances at Notting Hill Carnival. More...