By Itah Sadu
Pride Guest Writer
On August 31, before an audience of thousands, in the city of dreams — in the week ending the 50th anniversary of the “I have A Dream speech” — Toronto’s Pan Fantasy Steelband rolled into New York City, their fantasy, to play and win the New York Panorama Competition.
Many years ago the band had participated and placed second.
Last Saturday night under a summer sky and bright lights, Pan Fantasy executed the tune Fantastic Friday. It was a moment and movement of storytelling, the stories of Superman and Superblue, focus, discipline, cutting edge arrangements and great showmanship.
Three generations of Pannists brought their “A game” and moved New Yorkers from simple curiosity to shock, awe and a standing ovation. “What a fitting way to end the evening,” the MC said excitedly after the band brought the house down. Fitting the show was held on the grounds of a museum – history.
Despite placing fourth in a lineup of ten bands, Pan Fantasy was a serious contender for the top prize. The fourth place decision puzzled the audience and they booed the news. The Canadian band was a people’s choice.
To Award winning band leader, Wendy Jones, arranger, Al “Allos” Foster, driller, Ben Jackson, and the 80-plus members, congratulations on doing us proud, your dream became a reality of excellence.
To the parents and supporters of the band, you showed, by example, the important role community plays in enabling dreams. To Edwin John and “de pack de truck crew” back breaking work, your commitment to Steelpan is solid. To all the youth in the band, you were the best ambassadors over the weekend. You now enter the school year as Champions.
I am also extremely proud to report that the youth showed no lingering signs of disappointment on placing fourth. Rather they understood, they had gained the respect of thousands of people, and had represented a nation. What a life skill lesson.
It was great listening to parents speak about the responsibility cultivated by the Steelband appearing in other areas of their children’s lives.
To all those in the Pan Community keep on sharing the instrument. Steelbands are creative, scientific spaces that shape character.
To the Steelband Pan Fantasy, nuff nuff respect for bringing out the best of Canada in New York.