MCDCA Carnival 2019 capsule

March 13 2019

Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival pushes the boundaries of our cultural creativity each year. As a nation, we are challenged to satisfy our own high standards- be it designing more spectacular costumes, choosing the right tune for Panorama, or crafting the winning song for Calypso, Chutney Soca, or Soca Monarch. We inevitably become our biggest competitor.

The 2019 Carnival season lived up to this expectation and has been described as one of the most enjoyable festivals this country has ever witnessed. As we analyse Carnival’s various components, we see an overall increase in participation and calibre of talent. On the steelpan front, the Junior Panorama Competition saw 60 schools registered under the Ministry of Education’s Multicultural Music Programme (MMP) vie for top honours, with twelve (12) Primary Schools, nine (9) Secondary Schools and fourteen (14) non-schools (21 and Under) participating in finals. The talent of these steelpan juniors kept social media platforms alight with positive discussions and the expected friendly rivalry. When all was said and done, the collaboration of Naparima College and Naparima Girls High School copped the Secondary School Junior Panorama title with the Primary School Junior Panorama title going to Guaico Presbyterian Primary School. In the 21 and Under Panorama, Invaders Youth took the top prize.

The seniors also delivered sterling performances at the Panorama Finals- arguably one of, if not the most intense competition of the entire Carnival Season. This intensity was obvious at the various panyard judging sessions, which were all bursting at the seams. At the grand showdown, both BP Renegades and Pan Elders repeated a win in the large and medium band categories respectively, with Defense Force and San Juan East Symphony emerging as new winners in the small band and single band categories respectively.

To quench our unending thirst for the sounds of Carnival during this long season, the National Carnival Commission (NCC) took an innovative approach with the introduction of ‘Brass Bacchanal’. The event brought ten (10) brass giants together at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Carnival Monday night to the delight of an estimated 6000 patrons, all reveling in the keenly contested competition for the $100,000.00 prize.  The T&T Regiment Band demonstrated their musical dexterity, walking away with the winning title.

The performances of our music monarchs were equally exhilarating. Neval Chatelal and Nishard Mayrhoo emerged as the first Monarchs for the season by copping the Chutney Soca Monarch title for a second consecutive year. The London Family became treble winners; with Ronaldo London taking the Calypso Monarch title, Brian London securing first place in the Extempo category, and a younger Rivaldo London taking the Junior Calypso Monarch respectively. Rivaldo and his fellow junior competitors all meant serious business in their respective competitions, with Sherissa Redhead & Stefan Camejo claiming the Junior (Secondary) Soca Monarch title, Sekel McIntosh securing top honours in the Junior (Primary) Soca Monarch category, Avindha Singh and Machkaydon Charles emerging as Junior Chutney Soca Monarchs in the Primary and Secondary Schools categories respectively, and Keshorn Phillip of the University of the Southern Caribbean claiming the Junior Extempo crown.

One of the biggest highlights among the music monarchs occurred on Friday 1st March as Hollice Jonah Mapp aka “Mr. Killa” copped the Soca Monarch title, becoming the first non-national to win the competition.  To add to this spirit of Caribbean musical integration, Vincentian Gamal Doyle aka “Skinny Fabulous” became a joint Road March winner alongside Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin, with their infectious hit “Famalay”.

Finally, the carriers of carnival’s pulse, the masqueraders and mas artisans, gave the season its characteristic energy and colourful flare. Joseph Lewis copped the King of the Bands category, Shynel Brizan won the Queen of the Bands, Nikolai Jagdeo won the NCC Junior King title, and Jermiah Walters secured the NCC Junior Queen prize. In the band category, Moko Somokow – ‘Palace of the Peacock’ won first place among the Mini bands, Tribal Connection Cultural Promotions – ‘The Great Gathering’ won the Small Band category, K2K Alliance – ‘Through the Stained Glass Windows’ took top honours in the Medium Band category, and The Lost Tribe – ‘Taj’ won the Large Band category respectively. K2K Alliance also took away the Overall Band of the Year title.

Our children were not to be outdone as the Red Cross Children’s Carnival, a much anticipated event on the Carnival calendar, gave the nation’s children their space within the carnival medley. Among the thousands of children crossing the big stage were Junior Band of the Year winner Classix Productions 2019, Large Band winner Carnival Babies, Medium Band winner Classix Productions 2019, and Small Band winner Fun time Mas Productions; with Victoria Carvalho and Samuel Jackson securing the Queen and King of Carnival titles respectively.

Rounding off the 2019 Carnival capsule is our yearly pilgrimage to the origins of Carnival; reflected through the re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots and the Stickfighting competition known as Kalinda; the latter of which saw Roger Sambury emerging as winner of this intense competition. Canboulay or Kambule, is a soul-stirring reminder of the physical and psychological battles fought to give all Trinidad and Tobago citizens their right to revelry. Its growing appeal, particularly among foreign audiences, is a testament to our cultural sector’s ability to merge old traditions with the new to give us “the greatest show on earth.”

There were several changes to the usual Carnival line-up for 2019. The Calypso Monarch Finals was strategically re-positioned as the key element of the Thursday-night Kaisorama Extravaganza. The North Park was introduced to add versatility to the QPS landscape, and the Socadrome was included as part of the official NCC- sanctioned parade route. The traditional Dimanche Gras Show was re-imagined as a spectacular cultural showcase. Additionally, the Carnival Village at the Savannah featuring live entertainment nightly provided family entertainment and kept the QPS, Carnival City, abuzz with activity. These alterations were intended to enhance the overall carnival experience, and the National Carnival Commission, executing bodies, Pan Trinbago, TUCO, NCBA, TTCBA and the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts will continue to collaborate to produce the best carnival product each year.