Pan Fantasy’s night in praise of their “Pannies”

By Lincoln DePradine

“Rookie of 2018’’ Rachel Walcott & Wendy Jones, Pan Fantasy’s captain

Pan Fantasy Steelband musicians are certain they’ll be participating in the “Pan Alive’’ panorama competition of 2019; a competition they’ve won in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. What they are unsure about is what selection they’ll be performing at the Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA) competition on August 2 at Lamport Stadium.

“The tunes usually gravitate to you. This year we had some good music,’’ Al “Allos” Foster, Pan Fantasy’s music arranger, told The Caribbean Camera. “What we do is we try out a few tunes and then whichever one has the best vibes, that’s what we go with.’’

Foster made the comments Saturday at a Pan Fantasy event at Tropicana Community Services in Scarborough. It was titled, “A Night of Fantasy: Annual Pannies Celebration’’.

The evening of awards, pan, dance, door prizes and silent auction, was “excellent’’, said Pan Fantasy’s captain Wendy Jones.

“I thank God that all the players showed up and the community came out and supported us. Tonight is just amazing,’’ she said. “I’m just so thankful that everybody is here with us and, most of all, that the band is together.’’

Jones said the event has been a feature of the steel orchestra for a decade, but has been expanded to include the broader public in the last two years.

Dr Jean Augustine & music arranger Al “Allos” Foster

Pan Fantasy, founded 33 years ago, is part of the North York Inter-Community Youth Group. It’s a non-profit organization that mentors youth and helps them develop leadership skills through involvement in the performing arts.

The “Night of Fantasy’’ was patronized by several members of pan fraternity, including OSA president Terrence Wilson, as well stalwart community icons such as Dr Rita Cox and Dr Jean Augustine.

Cox commended Pan Fantasy for establishing what she described as a “great sense of community’’.

“The band has brought all of us together as a community,’’ she said.

Augustine, too, joined in congratulating Pan Fantasy. “We come together not only to celebrate but also to acknowledge the art form,’’ she said.

Augustine, the retired school principal and former Liberal MP, said she was asked by Toronto Mayor John Tory to stand in for him, since he was unable to attend the event as expected.

“Your impeccable musicianship and talent have entertained and thrilled steelband music audiences here and abroad,’’ Tory said in a written message read by Augustine.

“The City of Toronto is proud of the organization and individuals that are committed to making a difference and recognizes their contributions to the economic and social well-being of our communities,’’ the mayor said. “Your tremendous efforts and talents impact the lives of many and make our city better.’’

Among Saturday’s main highlights was the presentation of certificates to all Pan Fantasy players and to key supporters. There also were special awards such as the band’s top “Rookie’’ of 2018; a “Lifetime Achievement’’ recognition; and presentations to the “Most Improved’’ and “Most Dedicated’’ pannists.

Wilson, the OSA president, presented the 2018 pan championship trophy to arranger Foster.

“We love your music. We appreciate all you do for us,’’ Jones said in remarks to Foster, a graduate of York University’s music program.

Foster explained the thinking that fuels his arranging that now has Pan Fantasy chasing its eight consecutive panorama title.

“Usually, the ideas just come. You got to just keep working with it in practice,’’ he said.

Pan Fantasy is yet to start preparing for this year’s competition, “but we’re getting ready,’’ said Jones, the band’s skipper.

The “Night of Fantasy’’ event, she said, “is a good opportunity for us to bring everybody together and also to make sure that the band is ready to go by next week’’.

#Pan Fantasy # Tropicana Community Services#Night of Fantasy#Al “Allos” Foster#Caribbean Music#Caribbean Steelband#Pan Alive