The 2017 season is far behind us and audition season is on the front doorstep. Catch up with the latest staff changes around the activity and know all the names you need going into the next few months of camps.
Of the Bluecoats' 9 newest additions to the staff, Rosie Queen stands out as a major pick-up for the Canton corps. Queen holds an impressive career of about 25 years in the pageantry arts. Most recently, one of her fall guards just won the 2017 Bands of America Grand National Championship, Carmel (IN), where she has been building a powerhouse program since 2003. Queen was also the main visual instructor and company manager for the original cast of "blast!".
Raiford's experience includes designing, staging and choreographing for groups in all three major marching arts circuits (BOA, DCI, WGI). Currently, he is a designer for The Woodlands H.S. (TX) and Union H.S. (OK). According to the Bluecoats' press release, "he has been instrumental in the success of many DCI finalist corps including Suncoast Sound, Magic of Orlando, The Cavaliers, The Academy, Glassmen and Troopers," as well as the 5-time WGI World Champion Fantasia Winter Guard.
Lindsay Kusmierczak has taught many drum and bugle corps including Southwind, Glassmen, Blue Knights, and Phantom Regiment. Most recently, Kusmierczak served as the Color Guard Coordinator for Phantom Regiment in 2017. In the winter guard world, Lindsay has worked on staff at Paramount World and Harrison H.S. (GA) and currently is the Guard Director of Prosper H.S. (TX).
The Cavaliers have seriously buffed up their brass section during this year's offseason. Adding to their Brass Educational Team as the new Caption Manager is Kevin LeBoeuf, a recent staff member and 4-year performer of Carolina Crown's impeccable brass section. LeBoeuf completed a Music Education degree at Rutgers University and has managed to balance a "career split between New York, Los Angeles, and Japan" according to his biography on The Cavaliers' website. LeBoeuf's resume experience includes leading the impressive Japanese marching band Aimachi including their WGI Winds group, who earned gold with a jaw-dropping performance in the 2016 WGI World Championships.
Santa Clara Vanguard
After a monumental 2017 season, Santa Clara Vanguard has added some very well known heavy hitters to their design staff. Moving into the position of Creative Director and Drill Designer is Michael Gaines, who will be taking the place of Pete Weber. Weber will be welcoming a newborn into his family and because of that, will be taking the 2018 season off to prepare for that.
Gaines' experience includes working his way up through The Cavaliers' membership to visual staff and eventually took over the entire visual program in 1998. Gaines has made a huge impact on the design and aesthetic of the drum and bugle corps world and will be an excellent addition to Santa Clara Vanguard.
Also joining the design staff are Bart Woodley and Michael Rosales, as Consultant and Lead Choreographer respectively. Woodley performed as a member of The Cavaliers' color guard and Escapade Winter Guard before serving as a staff member at The Cavaliers and WGI's Pride of Cincinnati Winter Guard. Woodley currently fulfills a role at Winter Guard International as the Director of Operations and Sponsor Relations.
Rosales, another prominent name in the marching arts community, has performed with big name groups like the Blue Devils and Fantasia Winter Guard. He has acted on the instructional staff of Carolina Crown, Bluecoats and The Cadets in DCI, and Braddock Independent, Paramount World, and West Broward World in WGI. Altogether, this team bodes well for the future of Santa Clara Vanguard's show design.
The Cadets were the first to break silence and announce their staff changes... or similarities rather, promptly at 12:06 AM Eastern time (coincidentally, right after the ending of the informal gag order on staff announcements). The design staff will stay the same as last year (with one addition), giving them plenty of opportunity to cement their foundation even more after this past season.
New to the Cadets' design staff is Shane Gwaltney. Shane is a well-known member of the Winter Guard International community due to being a charter member of Music City Mystique and his continual involvement with the ensemble. He has worn many hats as a staff member, including Battery Arranger, Visual Designer, and Program Coordinator. In the drum and bugle corps world, Shane has worked with corps like Phantom Regiment, Southwind, Spirit of Atlanta and now The Cadets.
On the Cadets' website, director George Hopkins gives an insight on possibly revisiting Leonard Bernstein's works in the corps' 2018 production: "Our preference is to stick to Bernstein, but, there are meetings scheduled in the coming days with the New York Philharmonic and the Bernstein Office. Following those discussions, we will be in a better place to make the best of decisions."
Brad Toth joins the home team of Rockford, IL as the new Brass Caption Head. Toth has spent the last few years as the Brass Caption Head of Blue Knights, where he's been since 2012. He's joining a musical powerhouse of a staff in Phantom Regiment, which is the home of Will Pitts, Rob Ferguson and Derrick Shannon.
On September 22, Colts announced the addition of Richard Hinshaw and Daniel Wiles to the visual staff. Hinshaw will be acting as a Visual Designer and Wiles looks to be filling a Visual Consultant role and "will be a major contributor to the visual effects, pacing, and overall design of the visual package."
Jade Bouza joins the crew at Colts Drum and Bugle Corps in the Color Guard caption as the new Caption head and a designer. The Colts' staff has been building up over their staff recently with their percussion and brass caption heads both returning for their second seasons in 2018. Bouza's experience in the activity lives mostly in Florida, having worked with names like Newsome H.S. guard, USF Winterguard, and Flanagan H.S. guard. Bouza speaks about her feelings on Colts.org, "In my short time here, I can already tell there is something special about the Colts organization, and I'm truly humbled to come on board for the 2018 season."
Chris Tomsa joins the Madison Scouts as their new Brass Program Director. Most recently, Tomsa was one of the Mandarins' Brass Caption Heads and is now returning to the Scouts, where he earned 3 high brass awards and the 1975 DCI World Championship. As an arranger, Tomsa worked for the Glassmen for a decade and a half before moving on to Phantom Regiment. Former Madison Scouts' Brass Caption Head, Scott Oliver, is leaving to pursue his Masters degree.
Also joining the brass staff as Co-Caption Heads are Sean Phelan and Mark Trulson. Phelan marched in the Madison Scouts hornline before moving up to a drum major position where he earned the Jim Jones Leadership Award from Drum Corps International in 2012. Trulson has spent the last 5 years as a part of the Mandarins' staff, where he served as a tuba instructor and eventually co-caption head from 2015-2017.
In a blog post on the corps' website, September 22 brought a new addition to the Scouts' design staff. Kurt Jull returns to the Madison Scouts after spending nearly two decades developing multiple ensembles across the world. As a designer and choreographer, Jull already spent time with the Scouts from 1994 to 2000, after which he left to do the same for groups in Japan and the Pacific Northwest.
Spirit of Atlanta
Jeff Nelson steps in as the new Executive Director after spending the last 2 years as the President of the Board. As the owner of Lone Star Percussion, Nelson is taking over as an experienced businessman and also a caring alum of the corps. According to the corps' website, Nelson "has been pivotal in restructuting the board and corps operations, leading to a strong recovery from a difficult financial position" after the corps "found itself in deep debt and with an uncertain future."
Matt Jordan joins the corps' instructional staff as a Front Ensemble Arranger and Coordinator. His experience includes work with the 2017 WGI World Champions Music City Mystique and other corps like the Bluecoats, Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment. Joining the staff as Color Guard Designer is Chance Livar, the direcor of the WGI Independent World winterguard Black Gold. His experience in the drum and bugle corps activity includes work with The Cadets and Boston Crusaders. Also joining from the Black Gold family is Roman Montoya, who will act in the new Movement Specialist position as a choreographer and instructor. Most recently in DCI, Montoya has worked with corps like Santa Clara Vanguard and Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps.
Pioneer has made a new addition to their brass caption as well during this offseason. New to the helm is Andy Grindle, an alumni of the Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps. After his age-out season in 2011, Grindle spend 2012-2016 teaching the Troopers as a member of their brass staff.
With the departure of their brass caption head, Oregon Crusaders have decided to develop their staff internally. Their new Brass Caption Head, Lisa Tatum, will be making the move up from Assistant Brass Caption Head. Tatum's experience includes work as a brass staff member with the Troopers and Bluecoats. Joining the team as Ensemble Specialists are Thomas Turpin and Chris Ruglia. Ruglia earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Eastern Michigan University where he participated in multiple music ensembles including the Huron River Brass Quintet. Turpin currently serves as program coordinator and drill designer for numerous high school and university marching bands throughout Texas, Alabama, and Utah. He is also the Director of the Westwood Warrior Marching Band.
Oregon Crusaders have also added a new staff member to head their percussion caption, Henry Gillard. Gillard boasts recent experience marching in top-tier ensembles like marching Blue Devils in 2012-2014 and RCC Indoor Percussion from 2012-2016.
Mark Moreno has also joined the staff in the role of Visual Coordinator and Drill Designer. As a performer, Moreno was a member of the Fantasia Winter Guard and Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps. In the high school band world, he has designed for big names like the William Mason marching band from Ohio and Ronald Reagan from Texas.
As the corps strives to keep on the front edge of the drum and bugle corps activity, they have recently brought on Colton Hines as the Sound Designer and Electronics Engineer. Hines has worked in the marching arts as a consultant and audio specialist across the country. He has designed soundtracks for indoor winter guards through his company Winter Guard Soundtracks for groups like Mustang H.S. (OK), Union H.S. (OK), and Eclectix Independent.
After an incredible season in 2017, Sacramento Mandarins will be keeping a majority of their caption heads and design staff with the addition of a new Brass Caption Head. Mandarins' new Brass Caption Head Tim Snyder recently spent time with Troopers from 2013 to 2015 and made the move to Oregon Crusaders for the 2017 season. His experience includes arranging, consulting, and judging the marching arts activity across the country. Tim also works with the DCA Class A Champion Cincinnati Tradition as a music arranger.
Adding a very reputable name to their already well established design staff, Blue Stars brought on Jim Wunderlich as the corps' new Brass Arranger and Music Coordinator. Having spent the last decade with the Blue Devils as the Front Ensemble Caption head and arranger, Wunderlich helped them earn 7 world championships and 4 Fred Sanford High Percussion awards.
Nearly flying under the radar, Drum Corps International's newest World Class group has added to their arsenal of design staff this September as well. Chuck Naffier joins the Genesis design staff as a Music/Brass Designer. Naffier spent the 90s with his own "home team" corps, Colts, and most recently served as their brass arranger in 2014-15. Having received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from University of Northern Colorado, he is currently pursuing his Masters (also in Music Education) from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, IL.
Also quick to pull the trigger, Blue Knights made their new Brass Caption Head announcement just 15 minutes after The Cadets. The corps added Chad Pence into the Brass Caption Head position, leaving Brad Toth a very talented, world-class free agent. Pence's drum corps resume includes impressive ensembles such as Star of Indiana '93, Star of Indiana "Brass Theater" in '94, as well as winning a DCI World Championship while marching in The Cadets in 1998. Pence went on to teach The Cadets, earning DCI World Championship titles in both 2000 and 2005. He is currently the director of bands at Ashley Ridge High School in Summerville, SC, and performs in the Charleston Wind Symphony.
Two things are important to take away from The Academy's overnight announcement: the new program coordinator and a missing name. The Academy's four-year artistic director, Michael Townsend, will not be making a return to the Arizona corps. The new program coordinator, Lindsey Vento, will certainly be using her 18 years of experience from programming, designing, and choreographing finalist shows in WGI and BOA. She was recently a movement technician and hornline choreographer for Carolina Crown and will continue fulfilling that role as well as her new responsibilities with The Academy.
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