What were the judges looking for when deciding the winner for the Senior Panorama Competition 2018? Favouritism and a disregard for the judging rules of the competition were on full display. The judges were officials of the Department of Culture, and the rules and guidelines of the competition clearly state in Section 5 that during the process of judging the event, all officials are expected to conduct themselves in a proper manner. Judges shall not communicate with any of the competitors, and/or their sponsors, supporters, or members of the media for the entire duration of the competition.
This was not case on the night of the competition. The coordinator was supposed to be Mr Xavier, but Mr Tyndall who works for the same office as the coordinator of the Mash Committee and past leader of a band which won, was seen mingling with the judges. This brought the results into question, since there was a clear case of conflict of interest because the National School of Music Band is owned by the Department of Culture. Now if I own this band and all the judging officials come from me, what would people assume? It can also be noted that the judging outcome for the past few years has been the same. This is not acceptable, because the outcome seems always to be in favour of the National Band.
There is no way in terms of my music knowledge or on the basis of listening to steel pan music and soliciting the views of others, that the National Band could have emerged winners in front of the Guyana Police Force Band. They were definitely the crowd pleasers, playing well with a clean sound, good balance and with a proper melody and audio coming from all sections of the band. At no time did they break the rules of the competition unlike the National Band, whose members gyrated in front of the judges in a clear violation of the rules and standing orders of the competition, and yet who still emerged victorious.
Where are we going with competitions and judging in Guyana, if injustices like this keep occurring? There were other bands who were eliminated for violating competition rules, but this was not the case with the National Band. This attitude is not only bad for pan music lovers, but also for the players who try desperately to keep the art alive. If this is allowed to continue, sad to say steel band competitions are heading for a doomsday. We would like Mr Tyndall and others to recognize that fair and neutral judges are what we need, avoiding conflict of interest and keeping the art form alive and well.