The Minnesota Brass, Inc. leadership and its board of directors have decided not to field a competitive drum and bugle corps for the 2018 summer season. Despite the outstanding work of the artistic staff, marching members and the administrative team thus far this year, the corps has not been able to recruit a large enough base of brass members to field a summer program that meets the historically high performance standards audiences expect from Minnesota Brass.
The board has invited staff and existing members to explore the potential of creating a SoundSport ensemble that would perform at the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis on Saturday, August 11. An informational meeting regarding the potential SoundSport ensemble will be held on Saturday, April 28, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Northdale Middle School in Coon Rapids, Minn. Potential members in all sections (brass, percussion, color guard and support staff) are invited to attend. Those interested in being a part of SoundSport but unable to attend Saturday should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The decision to withdraw from the 2018 competitive drum corps season was a very difficult one,” said Todd Tanji, Minnesota Brass executive director. “Unfortunately, the competitive drum corps activity has experienced a decline in members and audiences over the past several seasons, and we’re feeling the pressure in Minnesota as well.”
The corps elaborated on some of the reasons for the decision:
- Minnesota Brass has had difficulty recruiting enough members for the brass section.
- The Drum Corps Associates (DCA) competitive schedule is both a recruiting and strategic challenge that puts the organization at odds with high-school and college music programs, particularly over the Labor Day weekend when DCA holds its championship competition. This has limited the corps’ ability to create beneficial partnerships with music educators at the high-school and college levels.
- Retention of multi-year veteran members has declined in recent years adding complications to our recruiting efforts
- It is expensive for potential members to participate in the ensemble despite significant subsidies the organization uses to keep member dues far below the actual costs of running the drum corps.
- It is increasingly challenging to recruit and retain talented, committed staff to lead all sections. We have been extremely fortunate to have stable, long-standing staff leadership in some aspects of the program, but other commitments of musical educators have become more prevalent in recent years.
Minnesota Brass Inc., a vibrant drum and bugle corps entity in Minnesota for more than 70 years, remains a healthy and viable performing-arts organization with stable finances and committed leadership. We anticipate no changes to our existing winter color guard and percussion ensembles. The board will be conducting a comprehensive review of the organization’s strategy in the coming months.
Minnesota Brass will continue to uphold its commitments to Drum Corps International as local partners for the 2018 summer events DCI Minnesota and March On! However, the organization will not sponsor the Sounds of Minnesota event this year.
“We know many alumni and 2018 members are saddened by the decision not to field a competitive drum corps in 2018,” said Tanji. “While SoundSport is not directly comparable to drum corps, it does provide for many great opportunities to perform together and create more flexible opportunities for potential members of all ages.” The Minnesota Brass SoundSport team would have a reduced rehearsal schedule and dues structure as compared to the traditional drum corps commitment. It is anticipated that such a unit would perform as part of the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., on Saturday, Aug. 11, creating more opportunities for those who participate in fall marching bands to join.
A final announcement regarding the potential SoundSport ensemble will be made by June 1.