Blue Era

The Reading (Pa.) Buccaneers won the 2007 Drum Corps Associates World Championship, scoring just tenths of a point away from the highest point total in DCA history. Find out the story behind the corps’ continued success.

Drum Corps Associates, a competitive association for all-age drum corps, held its World Championship event in Rochester, N.Y., on Sept. 1 and 2. Twenty-two corps competed in Open Class and the smaller Class A along with nine alumni exhibition corps and 19 mini-corps. More than 15,000 spectators attended this year’s event, which turned out to be one of the organization’s largest crowds ever.

The Reading (Pa.) Buccaneers won the Open Class championship with their 50th anniversary commemorative show, “Blue Era.” The corps’ nickame is “Balance in Blue” because of the group’s wide range of musical selections over the years.

“We had many meetings about whether we wanted to do a retro show, and someone came up with the idea to do a blue show,” says Jimmy Gruber, executive corps director of the Buccaneers. “‘Blue Era’ came across, and it really stuck with the members, and we just went along with it.”

The Hawthorne (N.J.) Caballeros took second place and the Empire Statesmen from Rochester, N.Y., came in third. The Sunrisers from Rockland County, N.Y., took first place in Class A with their show “Cirque du Soleil Se Levant.”

“In DCA there is a high level of esprit de corps,” says Josh Decker, drum major of the Buccaneers. “We compete, but we all have the same goals and a high level of respect for one another.”

Rhapsody in Blue

This DCA championship is the seventh in Buccaneers’ history, marking their third consecutive undefeated season. “We have members that have gone three years without being beaten, but I don’t know if we really think about that,” Gruber says. “We seldom talk about [winning] with the members; we just want to try our hardest at what we do.”

The Buccaneers’ final score of 98.313 is just a few tenths of a point away from the highest score in DCA history. “They’re true champions, a very classy organization,” says Gil Silva, 2007 president of DCA. “They do things right for their members and put on a great show for the audience. They set the standard and raised the bar for everyone else the last couple of years, and all the corps have benefited from it.”

The “Blue Era” show featured music from composers Aaron Jay Kernis, Aaron Copeland and Alberto Ginastera, ending with the aptly-named Gershwin classic “Rhapsody in Blue.”

“We make sure the shows we put on the field are very entertaining,” Gruber says. “Any type of music you can think of, we’ve probably done over the past 50 years.”

True Blue

Decker says the corps owes their success to the way they treat members. “One of the top things that sets us apart is how well the members are taken care of,” he says. “The administration wants us to know they care about us and often demonstrates it through their actions of cookouts at Buc field and personal contact to members in need.”

In the past four years, DCA has expanded from 13 to 22 corps representing eight different states and Canada. “It’s growth with a little bit of patience,” Silva says.

Silva says that one must experience DCA in order to understand it. “Our mission statement makes sure that audience entertainment is primary,” he says. “And our corps come through every year with that mission. I have people that come to our championship show from all over the country, from all walks of drum corps life and band life, and everyone comes away saying ‘It’s the most fun I’ve had in years.’”

About the Author

Elizabeth Geli is an editorial intern at Halftime Magazine. She is currently a junior majoring in print journalism at the University of Southern California. She began playing flute 11 years ago in her hometown of Placentia, Calif. Now she plays in the USC Trojan Marching Band and has supported the teams at two Rose Bowls, the NCAA basketball tournament and as many other games as possible.

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