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Sweet Pan


Sheldon Waithe

February 16, 2024

The world already knows the unique beauty of the instrument, now it will celebrate that beauty annually, following the United Nations (UN) declaring the 11th of August World Steelpan Day.

The declaration - made in July 2023 - recognises the contribution that steelpan makes to well-being, empowerment and of course, creativity, for all societies.

Celebrating one of T&T’s musical gifts to the world (see, we have not forgotten you, calypso, chutney, soca) in August is perfect timing, as that is when Pan Trinbago celebrates Pan Month, with a series of events offering numerous opportunities to learn more about the instrument, its history but most of all, to hear it. Pan Month includes stalwart bands such as Massy All Stars, Shell Invaders and Newtown Playboys, hosting events open to the public, from open air concerts to the popular and informative Conversation with the Pioneers. On 31st August, Independence Day, it all culminates with the Pan On d’Avenue parade through Woodbrook, with all the top bands taking part, and thousands swaying to the mobile melody.    

The pan yards remain open to the public year-round but it’s in the lead up to Panorama, just after New Year’s Day, that generates the most patronage. With good reason too, for the Carnival season is incomplete without a few visits to the pan yard. Faithful followers, casual listeners and even spies (pan competition is a serious business) gather to hear the progress being made as bands perfect their chosen song for the season, aiming to get to the ‘Big Yard’, the Queen’s Park Savannah. Notes don’t disappear into the night air, instead they enter the soul of all present, creating the attentive silence as the rehearsals begin.

As early as 6th January 2024 the battle begins with national small conventional band Panorama competition, with the following weeks incorporating the junior Panorama (14th January), the huge party that is the Panorama semi-finals (28th January), with the national large band champions crowned on Carnival Saturday, 10th February.

Jouvert morning will see many a masquerader, the same pan yard faithful, pushing the bands along the roads of T&T, chipping to the rhythm and emphasising the steelpan’s versatility. On stage, on the road, in the yard, on ‘d Avenue’, pan fits in everywhere. Which makes it apt that as the 2nd World Steelpan Day approaches, the glass case at the entrance of the UN displays two chromed tenor pans; a gift to the world.

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