When Pan Masters Steel Orchestra competes in tonight’s Pan Alive competition, in Toronto, Canada, pannists under its banner will do so with a new sense of purpose says band official Kelly Bonadie.
In its effort to dethrone reigning champion Pan Fantasy Steelband, Pan Masters has chosen Austin “SuperBlue” Lyons Get Something And Wave. Trinidadian Rudo Forteau is the arranger for the band.
In an interview with Steelpanauthority.com, she said, “We are feeling very confident. We finished learning the song quite early in the season and have had lots of time to drill and perfect our parts. We know we are the underdog, but we feel the arrangement is exceptional and think we have real chance at being the winner!”
In 2017, the band placed 3rd in the competition. The band climbed six places from the previous year, hence the optimism that abounds going into tonight’s contest.
Bonadie said, “God willing, we hope to improve upon that this year. All the elements are in place to do so, we just have to execute. Our arranger, Rudo Forteau, chose the song Get Something and Wave. We prefer to use older tunes for a couple reasons. Firstly, we find that although current songs are appealing, the older songs seem to really hit a note with the audience, who are, by and large, older people. Secondly, by choosing an older song, we generally are able to have a unique entry into the competition. We’ve seen over and over again that it has been common to have two or three bands playing the same (current) song.”
Pan Alive is a production of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival Festival and The Ontario Steel Band Association. Hailed as Canada’s premiere steel pan competition, it takes place during Caribana Carnival weekend. The event boasts of having some of North America’s best steel orchestras.
Bonadie describes Pan Masters as a fairly small band with a loyal membership, whose numbers more than double at this time of year.
Asked what has the past year been like for the band, she replied, “We’ve been very lucky to have Rudo Forteau manage to arrange his time, so that he could be here several months prior to the competition. He has worked tirelessly with us to learn the parts and he knows us well enough that he is able to arrange to both our strengths and weaknesses as a band.”
She added, “The core band is primarily female, but once we head into the season, it’s almost an even split. The women are more reliable as far as showing up to practice. The band members range from age 11 to 75 plus. Unlike some panyards, we all help each other out so that everyone is up to speed. The core band does play at various events all year and most of us have been in the band for at least 5 years, so we know each other well and get along well. That helps enormously during the season.”
Like many other bands in Canada, Bonadie said corporate assistance remains a challenge.
For that reason the band implemented new fundraising ideas this year, which have been moderately successful.
“It requires a lot of salesmanship, effort and determination to secure funding or donations and not everyone is cut out for that sort of work. This year, we tried to work together instead of delegating fundraising to a small group and it seemed to yield better results. In addition to approaching larger businesses with requests for donations or sponsorship offers, we also approached individuals and smaller businesses. We learned a lot from these approaches that we can put to use next year,” she said.