The Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps traveled to Manama, Bahrain, in April to perform in the opening ceremonies at the 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. This island nation, located in the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, made history in 2004 by hosting the first Formula 1 Grand Prix ever to be held in the Middle East. This year more than 50,000 spectators along with nearly 500 million television viewers saw the Grand Prix in Bahrain.
“We were very excited about the opportunity to be the first drum corps in Bahrain, and the best part was we were welcomed with open arms by our host,” says Gregory “GM” Kuzma, director of operations at Ascend Performing Arts, the Blue Knights parent organization.
Organizers of the Grand Prix found the Blue Knights via YouTube. The Blue Knights brought 100 performers to Bahrain. The ensemble comprised a mix of current members, alumni, and participants of other ensembles.
The Blue Knights performed a 15-minute show that included Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
Kuzma says that having 100 drum corps performers from different backgrounds play for the sole purpose of entertainment was the most memorable part of the trip. “It wasn’t for competition; it wasn’t for scores,” he says. “They went out there because they love what they do, and that’s to perform for an audience.”