London - Six members of the Laborie Steel Pan – Andrius Edwide (arranger), Joshua Muroi (captain), Shanyqua Scott (assistant band leader), Chloe Layne, Toniva Thomas and Kissana Renard – last night celebrated another remarkable milestone in their musical career, as winners of the prestigious Panorama competition in London.

The team travelled to the United Kingdom in mid August to join the Mangrove Steelband, one of the leading steel orchestras in Europe. Over a period of two weeks, the young Laborians practiced intensely to prepare for the competition, under the direction of drillmaster and drummer Leon Foster Thomas. The song selected by Mangrove was Hulk by Blaxx/Red Boys, skilfully arranged by Trinidadian Andre White.

This is the first time that the Laborie Steel Pan has participated in London Panorama, one of the main events of the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival. “This has been an incredible experience for us,” says Andrius Edwide, “winning Panorama here in London, with a band like Mangrove, that’s fantastic – but also making new contacts, connecting with the steel pan community and working with such outstanding musicians as Andre White and Foster Thomas.”

“We chose Mangrove as our partner,” says Labowi Promotions’ Yves Renard, who coordinates this UK tour, “because of its artistic excellence, but also because of its cultural significance for Caribbean people”. The band, which has been in existence since 1980, bears the name of a restaurant that was a centre of Caribbean cultural and social life in London in the 1960s, and which became the target of racially and politically motivated victimisation, but also a symbol of resistance to oppression.

The Laborie Pan Project – an initiative of Labowi Promotions – is committed to building such partnerships with like-minded organisations in other countries, as is already the case with Silver Stars and birdsong in Trinidad or with the Eastern Kentucky University in the USA, and to offer performances in other countries, as in the case of the steel band festival in Guadeloupe earlier this year.

In addition to its performing and competing steel band, the Laborie Pan Project provides quality music education to members, constantly enrols new, young members, hosts an annual international workshop, actively participates in community events, and provides welfare (health and education) support to members in need.

The work and the achievements of the Project and its steelband, established in 2006, have been possible thanks to the support of their main sponsors, Wilrock Ltd, to the leadership of Band Leader Quill Barthelemy, to the guidance and musical direction of Andy Narell, and to the dedication and hard work of all band members. Additional financial support for this UK tour was provided by the Laborie Cooperative Credit Union.