This past summer saw some of the fiercest competition in Drum Corps International (DCI) history to date. The 2013 season now ranks with the 1994 and 2004 seasons as the three most competitive, with nine World Class drum corps scoring more than 90 points at the DCI World Championships. In addition, no drum corps has ever won a Division II or III (now known as Open Class) title and gone on to capture the World Class DCI Championship in its 41-year history … until now. Find out how the best drum corps in DCI fared with a review of this year’s top performing ensembles, award winners and special recognition.
Photo by Ken Martinson/Marching.com
Carolina Crown discovered a winning formula with “E=mc2” to win its first-ever Drum Corps International World Championship. The Blue Devils explored the field with “The re:Rite of Spring” as the defending champions while The Cadets battled them both “Side by Side” all season long.
A New Champion is Crown(ed)
Carolina Crown from Fort Mill, S.C., proved that anything is possible if you put your mind to it by winning its first DCI World Class title in its short 23-year history on Saturday, Aug. 10, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in front of more than 20,000 audience members. DCI hadn’t named a first-time champion since Phantom Regiment in 1996. Through this victory Carolina Crown also became the first Open Class champion (Division II in 1993) to move on and win World Class. Carolina Crown joins only eight other World Class winners: Kingsmen, 6-time winner Santa Clara Vanguard, 2-time winner Madison Scouts, 15-time winner The Blue Devils, 10-time winner The Cadets, Star of Indiana, 7-time winner The Cavaliers and 2-time winner Phantom Regiment. (Co-champions had been named in three of the years.)
According to Carolina Crown’s website, its 2013 production of “E=mc2” explored Albert Einstein’s iconic equation that “represents energy, mass, and speed while also serving as a symbol of how we each observe the existence of space and time in our understanding of the universe.”
The equation resulted in a victorious final overall score of 98.30 as well as caption awards in Visual Performance, Brass (perfect 20.00 score) and General Effect. “The season’s success came from incredibly strong and detailed teamwork,” says Keith Potter, Carolina Crown program designer. “With so many moving parts, the idea that the performers, admin team, teaching and design staff could equally count on each other to deliver at the highest level was the key.”
Carolina Crown’s percussion (the section with the highest member turnover from 2012) had been trailing around 6th place throughout the summer. Fortunately, the members and staff were able to make the necessary adjustments to keep the drum corps competitive in the end. During championships the World Class caption awards are determined by averaging scores at prelims, semifinals and finals.
Carolina Crown’s percussion scores ranked 7th in prelims, 4th in semifinals and 6th in finals, averaging out at 5th place, which was just enough of a lift to help edge out silver medalist The Blue Devils. Having a perfect score in the Brass caption didn’t hurt either.
“Early on, we knew it would be a tight race [for the championship],” says Jim Coates, Carolina Crown’s executive director. “Our staff and members focused on the commitment to excellence throughout the summer. You don’t get a nickname like #purplepantsband without a fan following.”
The Blue Devils Spring Into 2nd
The Blue Devils from Concord, Calif., challenged Carolina Crown to the very end. The defending 2012 DCI World Champion scored an overall score of 98.05, capturing 1st place in the Color Guard caption, 2nd in Visual Analysis and Percussion, and 3rd in Music Effect, Brass and Music Analysis.
“I am so proud of the members and staff for making this another wildly successful season,” says David Gibbs, executive director. “The staff fully developed it all the way to the end, and the members trusted in the concept and never gave up—they really owned the show.”
With its show “The re:Rite Of Spring,” the 15-time DCI World Champions celebrated the works of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet by putting its own classical and jazz rhythm interpretation in a way only The Blue Devils know how.
“Every year we hope to be in the mix competitively, and this season was no exception with Carolina Crown,” Gibbs says. “There was sincere respect from the beginning when they joined us for the first time during our early tour in California. We want to compete against others who challenge us to help make us better. Many great friendships were forged between our two drum corps, and that’s what this activity is all about.”
The Cadets Take Bronze
The Cadets, a program of Youth Education in the Arts from Allentown, Pa., finished in 3rd place with an overall score of 96.95. The Cadets took 1st place in Percussion and 2nd in Music Effect, Brass and Music Analysis. The 10-time DCI World Champion performed the music of Samuel Barber with “Side by Side” for its 2013 production featuring “Adagio for Strings,” “Symphony No. 1” and “Medea.”
According to George Hopkins, The Cadets executive director, the show was about contrast, comparison, conflict and resolution. “Fans of The Cadets who appreciate our show design loved this show,” Hopkins says. “We are thrilled to be counted among the great performances of Carolina Crown, Blue Devils and Santa Clara Vanguard.”
After a summer of tight competition in the percussion caption, The Cadets took home the Fred Sanford award for best percussion performance for the first time since 2005.
“The fun of it for me is seeing the kids win and seeing them get credited for the hard work,” says Colin McNutt, The Cadets percussion caption head, in a DCI. org interview. “There were incredible drumlines this year. I think this was a great year for percussion in general.” Following an inspiring run-through at the beginning of the summer, the drumline already showed signs of success, Hopkins says.
“I told the drumline back in June that they had the potential to be perfect,” Hopkins says. “Being named percussion champions is great, and we are thrilled for the staff and members on this special recognition.”
The Vanguard Cadets fought for gold with “The Art of War” in DCI Open Class competition over a “Warped” Blue Devils B and a Genesis “mOZaic.”
Vanguard Cadets Capture Gold
The Vanguard Cadets from Santa Clara, Calif., celebrated its third DCI Open Class Championship on Tuesday, Aug. 6, in Michigan City, Ind.
With an overall score of 96.15, the Vanguard Cadets took 1st place overall as well as top honors in Brass, Color Guard and General Effect and 2nd place in Percussion.
During the World Class competition, Vanguard Cadets went on to place 21st with a 77.70 in semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 9.
“The members and staff didn’t hold back with this show,” says Steve Barnhill, Vanguard Cadets executive director. “They took a familiar concept of war and put their own personality into it that made it understandable to everyone who watched them. We made it timeless, so it honored generations of war, not just one particular conflict.”
Its 2013 production, “The Art of War,” focused less on the expertise to defeat an enemy but more on the ability to partake in unspeakable horrors while struggling to retain the capacity to love, forgive and cultivate compassion after the fighting has ceased. Myron Rosander’s challenging visual design created a framework for the members to express the difficulties of the side of war not always dealt with in Hollywood and in real life.
“This show concept actually was inspired by real-life combat veterans from recent conflicts like the Gulf War,” Barnhill says. “We wanted this tribute to our veterans to be one that recognizes them on and off the battlefield.”
Blue Devils B “Warped” into 2nd
The Blue Devils B from Concord, Calif., took 2nd place by less than half a point with an overall score of 95.70, winning the percussion caption award again for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year. The corps also placed 2nd in General Effect and 3rd in Color Guard. In World Class competition, The Blue Devils B placed 20th in semifinals with a score of 77.95.
In its 2013 program entitled “Warped,” the Blue Devils B challenged perceptions on a musical journey through sight and sound. “We had the best performance of the season at Open Class finals,” says Rick Odello, Blue Devils B director. “This year’s drum corps was one of the strongest performing groups we have ever had. The staff was incredible in all captions, and our support staff and volunteers were the best ever. This organization never ceases to completely amaze me year after year.”
Blue Devils B succeeded even with a large group of newcomers. “With the high number of rookies, to include myself, we worked hard to overcome the challenge of a difficult show that involved a floor and multiple props,” says Niko Martinez, Blue Devils B drum major.
Genesis Travels to New Territory
A newcomer to the Open Class Top 3 was Genesis from Edinburg, Texas. Genesis scored an overall 91.55, which put it three placements higher than its 2012 Open Class rank. During World Class competition, Genesis finished 23rd with a score of 74.650 in semifinals.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more from the members and staff,” says Chris Magonigal, Genesis executive director. “We just wanted to improve every year since we started out in 2009, and our talented members and staff exceeded our expectations this season.”
Genesis’ show, “mOZaic,” was based on a compilation of all things in the world of Oz to include L. Frank Baum’s original works from “The Wizard of Oz” as well as selections from “The Wiz,” “Wicked,” Pink Floyd and The Doors.
Genesis was also named the 2013 Most Improved Open Class drum corps, an honor voted on by corps directors. In addition, Magonigal was also named the Open Class Director of the Year for 2013.
“The Genesis family has been wonderful in making this summer a memorable one,” Magonigal says. “My staff was great, the show program was fun, and our volunteers were amazing. It definitely takes a team to be successful in this activity.”
About the Author
Gregory M. Kuzma (www.gregorymkuzma.com), who simply goes by “GM,” is a performing arts consultant for drum and bugle corps and marching bands around the United States. A drum and bugle corps veteran, he is the author of the book “On the Field From Denver, Colorado … The Blue Knights!,” which highlights his 1994 summer tour adventures as a drum corps member.