A corps with a long, strong tradition, the Boston Crusaders is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Leading the realm is Andy Waldukat, who became executive director just two years ago. Together, they plan to conquer the field.
The Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps, celebrating its 75th anniversary, is among the oldest and most well-known drum corps in the nation. Leading them during this milestone season is Andy Waldukat. While Waldukat just joined the Crusaders team in 2013, he is no new face in the world of drum corps. He talks to Halftime Magazine about his career and what we can expect in years to come.
Waldukat: I was fortunate to have a school district that had music from first grade on. Then in high school, I had an awesome band director, Ron Hornish, who really inspired me to want to do this. I ended up going to the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and did my music education degree there.
Also in my senior year of high school, I auditioned to march drum corps and spent five years with The Cavaliers from 2000 to 2004. Those formative years essentially set me up pedagogically and with relationships, so I started my career moving forward from that.
Halftime: How did you come to work for the Boston Crusaders?
Waldukat: I had taught visual staff and had done other drum corps things, but I was taking some time away from drum corps to focus on my program at Capistrano Valley High School [in Mission Viejo, Calif., where] I had been teaching for eight years. So I started a masters degree in educational leadership. When I finished my masters degree in 2013, I finally had no excuse; I had to go back and teach drum corps again.
I had about five interviews with the folks from the Boston board of directors and things just started to feel right. The things that they’re doing to inspire music, the way they’re expanding the organization, and the way they supported me in my vision of creating a destination for music education and art pageantry—it felt right that I was able to make a place for music educators by educators, where the staff as well as most of the operations and administrative team are teachers.
Halftime: What is your proudest achievement with the corps?
Waldukat: I think the proudest moments are yet to come. Putting together the team that has been designing this year and watching that come together has been incredible. I think the proudest thing is just developing such a rich and deep background of educators who are passionate about creating the next generation of music teachers, designers and choreographers. That’s what I’m most excited about right now.
Halftime: Do the Boston Crusaders have any interesting traditions that you would be willing to share?
Waldukat: The Boston Crusaders have been around for 75 years, and the corps song is based on a tune called Giants. It’s a testament to the deep adversity that they’ve gone through over the years because
they’re a group that in my mind is [made of] giants. That’s the biggest thing I see about them. They want to continue to grow and thrive for 75 more years.
Halftime: Speaking of the 75th anniversary, how are the Boston Crusaders celebrating this milestone?
Waldukat: We have our big anniversary gala at Gillette Stadium on July 2. This is going to be an incredible event. The last time a drum corps was in Gillette Stadium was in 2005. [Gillette Stadium is home to the NFL team New England Patriots.]
Halftime: What can you tell us about this years show?
Waldukat: This years show is called Conquest. We’re taking a modern medieval aesthetic and bringing it to our football field. It’s roughly based on four kingdoms that are coming together. There will be a lot of wonderful visual colors and ideas. Musically, Ryan George, Ellis Hampton and Timothy Salzman are putting a book together that fans will be humming afterward. [The Boston Crusaders have played portions of the song Conquest by Alfred Newman almost every year since 1969.]
Halftime: What advice do you have for students interested in drum corps?
Waldukat: Attend a show, attend a camp and audition. Do not get discouraged if you dont make it on your first try. I remember seeing a lot of faces my first year at Boston and then seeing them back after they didn’t make it their first year, and now they’re in the corps. I also remember when marching my five years, there were faces I would see every year in February camp for two or three years before they finally stood next to me in the arc. It’s a process, so keep at it; keep coming back.
If you don’t make a drum corps on your first audition, go and talk to the director and staff and find out where else you can go and march. A lot of us will share contact information of another drum corps director or staff member with someone who’s interested in marching.