The Brooklyn Panorama competition: A historical account


The Brooklyn Panorama competition in New York is one of the largest steelpan competitions in the United States with roots that trace back to the birthplace of the steelpan, Trinidad and Tobago. New York is also the diasporic landing zone of steelpan into America. Traditions and customs of New York’s Panorama, such as the rules for the competition, arrangements and style of music performed, and performing forces that compete, are similar to the Panorama competition that takes place in Trinidad every year during Carnival. This yearly historical event in the United States preserves the traditions and customs associated with the West Indies people, Carnival festival season, and musical styles that originated in Trinidad and Tobago’s Panorama Competition. In Janine Tiffe’s article “The Arrival of Steel Pan in the United States,” she shares that Rudy King, Ellie Mannette, and Kim Loy Wong were among the first Trinidadians to bring the steelpan to the United States in the 1940s. In Ray Allen’s article “J’Ouvert in Brooklyn Carnival: Revitalizing Steel Pan and Ole Mas Traditions,” he states that Rudy King was the first person to include a steelpan element in the New York festival in the mid-1950s. Although there is quite extensive research into the early years of steelpan in the United States, most of that research has traced steelpan through the education systems and academia. This document deviates from this approach to include traditional music being performed in a culturally accurate representation of how it is taught and performed in Trinidad. Most of the original Trinidadians that first brought this instrument and style of music to the United States have recently passed away; therefore, it is the author’s belief of the importance to document the music, traditions, and heritage. Many countries now have steelpan competitions as part of their Carnival festivals. Today, the steelpan can be found around the world and involved in many styles and genres of music.

Steelpan, Panorama, Brooklyn, Trinidad, History, Panorama Arrangements, Steel band, Steel drum, Brooklyn Panorama, Trinidad Panorama, Steelpan in America, American steelpan, Steel pan, Percussion