RASPO - Panorama History

Panorama UK Steel Band Championships Preview in Reading with RASPO Steel Orchestra by Julia Brazil

Reading All Steel Percussion Orchestra first experienced the Panorama Steel Band Championships in 2007 and has since gone on to compete with the UK’s top steel bands for the title of Champions of Steel.

RASPO’s first foray into the prestigious national competition took place in 2007 when Mangrove Steel Band invited RASPO players to join in for Panorama.  The RASPO contingent of teenagers Kisha Lowe, Zash Brazell, Karl Stanley, Nathifa Jordan, Ottavia Bucher and Ailsa Harris along with bandleader Mary Genis, learned Len Boogsie Sharpe’s arrangement of his self penned calypso ‘Sharing Licks’.

View ITV’s coverage of RASPO’s first time competing in Panorama with Mangrove Steel Band in 2007.

The players travelled from Reading to London every weekday evening for three weeks to practice as part of Mangrove’s seventy-five strong orchestra.  Mangrove won third place out of the nine UK bands who competed for the title of Champions of Steel.

In 2009 RASPO’s bandleader Mary Genis joined Mangrove again to learn Andre White’s arrangement of Boogsie Sharpe’s Magic Drum.  Eight bands performed and Mangrove won second place to champions Ebony.

37 piece RASPO practices Bubbles’s arrangement of ‘Pan on Fire’ for its Panorama premiere in 2010.  

In 2010 RASPO entered Panorama for the first time in its own right.  The thirty-seven piece orchestra worked with Trinidadian arranger Michael ‘Bubbles’ Oliviere to learn ‘Pan on Fire’ for seventh place in the competition.

Iman Pascall from Berklee in New York arranged ‘Calling Meh’ for RASPO in 2011.  Sixteen players from Bucksburn Academy in Aberdeen, Scotland joined RASPO for sixth place in the competition.

RASPO’s forty-five musicians practice ‘Calling Meh’ by New York arranger Iman Pascall for Panorama 2011.

Prior to the competition all competing bands traditionally practice their arrangement outside.

RASPO previews its Panorama performances in Reading centre, testing out the complex ten minute arrangement to balance the orchestral sound, gain local support and as a final rehearsal for the actual competition.

RASPO returned in 2018 with ‘Mad Man’ arranged by CultureMix’s in house composing and arranging team, Paul Jr Watson and Dani Richardson, for joint fourth place.  Mangrove won the title of Champions of Steel. See more…

The breathtaking performances delight and inspire audiences many of whom may have never before seen or heard the magnificence of a large steel percussion orchestra.