Pantonic Steel Orchestra was founded in 1988 by the late Biggs Yearwood and Raymond Joseph. The pair came up with the idea of forming a community band to develop the artistic and educational needs for the local community youths and encourage them to keep focused and express themselves through music, and to also aspire to go on to make careers from the art of Steel Band as they both did.
Their main aim and intention was to keep the young people focusing on doing something positive, productive and off the streets. Pantonic Steel Orchestra began with both their family members and quickly grew, expanding with many youths within the community joining. Pantonic became such a talking point in the community that ex-Mayor of Hackney, Mr Sam Springer became interested in managing the band and took them under his wings getting them bookings in the U.K, France and other parts of Europe.
Pantonic Steel Orchestra successfully went on to play year after year at the London Notting hill Carnival, also entering The London Panorama competition which is held at Kensal Rise every year on the Saturday before the Notting hill Carnival. The competition consists of many steel bands from different communities within the UK competing to win status, financial prize and sponsorship. On some occasions more than 20 bands will enter. At best Pantonic Steel Orchestra came 2nd with as many as 75 players from local communities, Europe, Trinidad and international players who came over to join and play in the band for the event.
Many of the original players have now gone on to establishing careers from teaching the instrument in schools, youth centres, privately events and providing the community with educational workshops.
Currently, the band has recently reformed as Pantonic Steel Orchestra-The Next Generation, many of the now players are off springs of the original band. Pantonic now consist of 25-30 players with a mixture of adults and youths. The band is growing rapidly and are very active with bookings from private events to local community events such a Black History, Christmas events and other festivals.
Recent events include the annual Hackney One Carnival, with over 30,000 attendees, Pantonic was Awarded "Best Music on the Road" 2017 and 2016, we also won this award in 2014. During the summer Pantonic were invited to perform at the V Festival Weekender with Headliners- Rudimental featuring James Arthur, performing the song “Sun Comes Up” at Hylands Park in Chelmsford and Weston Park in Staffordshire with a crowd of over 250,000 people. Bank Holiday Sunday Pantonic gave an electrifying performance at Norman Jay’s “Good Times Goes East” at Mick’s Garage Hackney Wick. We perform annually at the Run Hackney Marathon, motivating the runners, volunteers and onlookers with vibrant energetic music.
Other events include the Olympics Waltham Forest 2012 Torch Event, Jamaican Independence event at the Puma Yard Brick lane, the 1000 Pans event which was an idea that actor Colin Salmon came up with as part of the Thames Music Festival Event. Hackney Wicked Festival, Hackney Jam, Pre- Carnival BLOCKORAMA 2014 & 2015, plus many other private events, church events including several performances at St Paul's Cathedral. The band regularly gets involved with workshops and community events with young people and those with special needs.
Pantonic Steel Orchestra is currently holding workshops and Beginners classes on every Sunday & Friday at St Thomas Church, Old Hill Street in Hackney. They welcome players age 6 and up, also people with disabilities from the community who would like to join the band as well as non-players wishing to learn to play the instrument.